Under UK copyright law, literary works (such as letters and notebooks) authored by Alfred Russel Wallace (ARW) which were unpublished at the time of his death on November 7th 1913, will remain in copyright until 20391. This copyright is owned by the Alfred Russel Wallace Literary Estate which currently has three co-executors, namely Mr Richard Russel Wallace (Dick), Mr Alfred John Russel Wallace (John) and Dr George W. Beccaloni.
Authors wishing to publish such works would ordinarily need to obtain permission from the copyright holder before doing so. However, on July 31st 2011, in an attempt to facilitate the scholarly study of ARW's writings, the co-executors of ARW's Literary Estate agreed to allow third parties to publish ARW's copyright works non-commercially without first having to ask the Literary Estate for permission, under the terms and conditions of Creative Commons license "Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported" - see below. Note that the Alfred Russel Wallace Literary Estate may revoke this permission at any time.
Dick and John Wallace inherited ARW's Literary Estate from ARW's last surviving child, their father William Greenell Wallace (1871 - 1951) after his death on May 6th 1951. On July 31st 2011, George Beccaloni became a third co-executor of the Literary Estate.
The Alfred Russel Wallace Literary Estate grants third parties permission to non-commercially publish transcriptions, broadcasts, images and other copies of Alfred Russel Wallace's copyright literary works under the terms and conditions of Creative Commons license "Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported" i.e. http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/3.0/legalcode (for a summary see http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/3.0/deed.en_GB). One of the following notices must accompany a work when it is published:
1) "Copyright: Alfred Russel Wallace Literary Estate. This work is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported. To view a copy of this visit http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/3.0/legalcode".
2) "The copyright of literary works by Alfred Russel Wallace which were unpublished at the time of his death and which are published in this [book, film etc] belongs to the A. R. Wallace Literary Estate. These works are licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported. To view a copy of this visit http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/3.0/legalcode".
Works published without one of these notices will be regarded as unauthorised publications by the Literary Estate. Note that the copyright of transcriptions, broadcasts, images and other copies of all of Alfred Russel Wallace's copyright works remains the property solely of the Alfred Russel Wallace Literary Estate and as such copyright in these works cannot be assigned by third parties to publishers or to any other party.
The right to publish ARW's copyright manuscript works commercially can only be granted with the agreement of two or more of the co-executors of the Alfred Russel Wallace Literary Estate. The contact for all enquiries relating to the Literary Estate is George Beccaloni.
Please note that decisions to allow commercial publication of ARW's copyright manuscript works will be made on a case-by-case basis and, if granted, a reproduction fee may be charged. Copyright of these works will remain the property of the Literary Estate.
Whether a proposed publication is classed as being commercial or non-commercial is a decision for the executors of the Literary Estate. For guidance see http://wiki.creativecommons.org/Defining_Noncommercial As a rule of thumb, if the author of a publication stands to make a profit from the publication, then the work is probably a commercial one. If in any doubt please contact George Beccaloni.
Important Additional Information
i) The Alfred Russel Wallace Literary Estate does not own the physical copies of ARW's manuscript works, and the owners of these manuscripts have control over access to them. Owners may choose to levy their own charges to supply images or other copies of the manuscripts they own and any copyright in images of such manuscripts (but not in the literary work itself) will belong to their creators.
ii) Any agreements relating to the copyright of ARW's manuscript works made between May 6th 1951 and July 31st 2011, must have been made jointly by both Dick and John for them to be legally binding.
iii) The co-executors of the Alfred Russel Wallace Literary Estate are not aware of any cases where the copyright of ARW's copyright manuscript works is owned by third parties. The assignment of copyright to third parties is possible, but it would require the written agreement of all co-executors of the Literary Estate.
iv) In the case of published transcripts, it should be borne in mind that there may be copyright associated with their typographical arrangement (i.e. the layout or actual appearance in print), which lasts 25 years from their publication and belongs to the publisher. Reproduction of the printed page requires the permission of the publisher, but a new transcription from it may be made and published under the terms and conditions described above.
v) The contact for all enquiries about the Literary Estate is George Beccaloni.
1. Unless the work was published with the permission of his Literary Estate before 1 August 1989, in which case the work will be in copyright for 70 years after Wallace's death, unless he died more than 20 years before the work's publication, in which case copyright would expire 50 years after publication.
Please note that the above notes are for guidance only and do not constitute legal advice.
The Literary Estate would like to thank Tim Padfield for his help in drafting the notice above. For a comprehensive overview of UK copyright law, especially in relation to unpublished materials, see Tim's excellent book http://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/bookshop/details.aspx?titleId=400