Skip to content



Literature: Happy Bloomsday Centenary! Google agrees:

Google Bloomsday logo

You can have a read of Joyce’s masterpiece online at, although this is certainly one text that works better on paper, to be pored over and parsed slowly. But regardless of whether it’s readable on-screen or not, the legality of that copy is dubious, anyway.

As this Telegraph article notes, the copyright situation on Ulysses is, sadly, a total mess. Even 84 years after it was written, and promptly banned in the US, UK and Ireland for ‘obscenity’, Ulysses remains a thorny legal subject.

The novel was first published in 1922, and as such, fell into public domain in the UK in 1992, but was apparently ‘pulled back’ in 1996. According to this mail, due to recent copyright term extensions, the 1922 text will now remain in copyright in the EU until the end of 2011, and may not expire until 2032 in the US. And this Irish Times article notes that in Ireland, ‘copyright on Joyce’s works ran out on December 31st, 1991, 50 years after his death. However, EU regulations revived copyright from July 1995 when it extended the lifetime of copyright to 70 years.’

Reportedly, the Dail even had to pass emergency legislation last week to prevent an exhibition at Dublin’s National Library from being sued by the Joyce Estate:

The threat to the exhibition has been caused by the 2000 Copyright Act which creates a doubt about its ability to display manuscripts bought by the State because the Joyce estate still holds copyright.

Hilarious. Recent overzealous copyright extension legislation snares governments too! But they get to rewrite the laws in emergency session to fix it ;)

All very ironic, considering Ulysses’ structure was deliberately derived from The Odyssey in the first place.

Comments closed