Are any Go books coming out of copyright?

Hmm, Meijin is 1951. However, in 2018 Japan apparently extended copyright to 70 years after the author’s death, which means it won’t be available until 2042, almost a century after publication.

I think Segoe also died in '72, so that is when any of his books would be coming out (unless, of course, the period is extended again – which is not unlikely…)

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Takagawa’s books are going to take even longer, 2056.

The Maeda tsumego are a little bit better, 2045, but still nowhere close.

The Kitani–Suzuki joseki dictionaries are 2045 as well.

Sekiyama’s books are 2040.

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Yeah, I was going to post that the answer might be depressing because of this… and from what I’m reading on wikipedia this applies to Japanese copyrighted works also

I was actually just thinking about this because Smart Go Books recently republished What’s your rating (under the other title Test your Go strength) which I’d been looking for on ebay before


One comment I have is that, as copyright goes, Western Go is in an exceptionally bad position because many of the oldest English-language books were written by young authors who are still alive today.

Take the first publication by the Ishi Press in 1968, volume one of Modern Joseki and Fuseki. It was published 53 years ago.

However, Richard Bozulich is still alive! Even if Bozulich died this year, the book wouldn’t be released from copyright until 2091, which would be 123 years after publication.

To put that in perspective, this is comparable to the very first book on Go in the English language, Arthur Smith’s 1907 The Game of Go, still being copyrighted today.

I find it very little wonder that “unauthorised sharing” is so prevalent.

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Copyright law encourages murder of geriatric authors :wink:


Why would people be upset that living folks have copyrights on their work? If you want a book about go, get your but to a store and pay for it.

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The prices on SmartGo Books are pretty reasonable too. I look forward to them adding new books as they have been doing over the last while. It would obviously be nice if they made a windows/android app to but I think the epub versions are decent enough.

One reason is because many of these books are out of print and impossible to buy legally other than if you get lucky and find a second hand copy. “Beyond forcing moves” is an example, a great book (by Takagi Shoichi translated by Brian Chandler) that I often recommend and see people wishing to buy but unable to find (I’m not selling my copy as it’s actually the Cambridge go club’s).


You live in Boston? Will you be at the library today?

No, I live near Cambridge (England).

I thought “Huh?”

But Cambridge, Massachusetts - Wikipedia, Cambridge is also a major suburb of Boston, USA.


Yes, the Massachusetts Cambridge is also home to a world famous university, MIT. Boston, England is not so well known as its American namesake.


Igo Daijiten (the Great Joseki Dictionary of Suzuki Tamejiro) has been in the public domain since 2010.

An attempt at an explanatory table.

Country Author’s death Method (Putative) release range
Japan before 1968 D+30, D+50 released
1968– D+70 2038–
China before 1971 D+50 released
1971– D+50 2022–
Korea before 1971 D+30, D+50 released
1971– D+50 2022–
USA published before 1926 released
1926–50 D+70 if unrenewed released
1951– D+70 if unrenewed 2022–
1926–35 P+95 if renewed released
1936–77 P+95 if renewed 2022–72
1978– D+70 2048–
UK published before 1912 D+7, P+42 released
before 1945 D+50 released
1945–50 D+70 released
1951– D+70 2022–

So the magic end dates are

  • Japan '67
  • China and Korea '70
  • USA '35
  • UK '50

If you can find books with authors who died on or before those years, they’re in the public domain.

Or so it seemed to me on a cursory reading of the relevant Wikipedia pages.

Japanese copyright law seems to state that newspaper articles receive 70 years after publication, which means 1950.

That then means that almost all the important newspaper-sponsored jubango, as well as the reporting on the early editions of the Honinbo tournament, has aged out. Of course, one must be able to read Japanese…


Unless a newspaper … article specifically states that it cannot be reproduced, free reproduction is permitted.

I think one might also be able to find partially or completely English-language newspapers which were operating in China in the early 20th century discussing Go. Mainland papers probably give us until 1970 and Hong Kong ones likely a bit less, if pre-1997 Hong Kong publications are treated under British copyright.

Here’s a list of Go magazines (all Japanese) published from 1879 to 1922.

Who knows, perhaps they can be found somewhere.

We still have to wait until 2038 for the British Go Journal to start aging out (assuming 70 years from publication), but the American Go Journal began in 1949 so one would think that at least some of the issues have escaped to the public domain.

I think some parts of more modern Japanese magazines already lost their copyright under the 50 years from publication rule before the new law came in in 2018.

Most notably the English-language Nihon Kiin magazine Go World in its 1961–67 editions.

Oh, and also a lot of editions of Deutsche Go–Zeitung, since it began publication in a very venerable 1909. 1909–1950 without the World Wars is 31 years, quite substantial.

Kubomatsu’s books Go no Jousiki (Common Sense in Go, 1929), Yose to Kou no Kenkyuu (Study of Yose and Ko, 1935) and Kutou Juusannen (Struggling Thirteen Years, 1940) have all entered the public domain and can be found linked on his Sensei’s Library page.

Of course, as with many copyright-free Go books they’re mainly of value to those who can read Japanese.

There are also many older Japanese books listed here.

The Internet Archive is celebrating its 25th anniversary.

That’s older than both Sensei’s Library (2000) and Wikipedia (2001), as well as all living Go servers (I think) except IGS (1992). Probably a similar age to, but we can’t really call rgg alive any more.

By the way, Wikipedia disagrees with the popular idea that the Library of Alexandria was totally burnt:

Despite the widespread modern belief that the Library of Alexandria was burned once and cataclysmically destroyed, the Library actually declined gradually over the course of several centuries. This decline began with the purging of intellectuals from Alexandria in 145 BC …

The Library, or part of its collection, was accidentally burned by Julius Caesar during his civil war in 48 BC, but it is unclear how much was actually destroyed and it seems to have either survived or been rebuilt shortly thereafter; the geographer Strabo mentions having visited the Mouseion in around 20 BC …

The Library dwindled during the Roman period, due to a lack of funding and support. Its membership appears to have ceased by the 260s AD. Between 270 and 275 AD, the city of Alexandria saw a Palmyrene invasion and an imperial counterattack that probably destroyed whatever remained of the Library, if it still existed at that time.

Cool, i will get that. My eyes are too old to read paper book

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