Don't contact the Patent and Trademark Office about copyright matters.
Copyright falls in the purview of the Copyright Office, an arm of the
Library of Congress on Capitol Hill.
Ever since the anthrax scares and terrorist alerts, Capitol Hill has
become a fortress, and all mail going to offices there suffers long
delays as it is scanned, inspected, sniffed, and sorted. Therefore
contact with Capitol Hill, Congressional, Supreme Court, Library of
Congress, and Botanical Gardens offices should be by email or fax,
which get through immediately.
As a working rule of thumb, all literary and artistic works created
before 1923 are in the public domain. A few created later may also
be, but most are not. Sound recordings -- and music rolls are sound
recordings -- are a different matter. Due to factors too involved
to outline here, sound records have been grandfathered copyright
protection until long after most of us will be dead: to the year 2024.
Every time you go to a Disney movie, spit at the screen and every time
you hear a Sonny Bono recording, hiss at it!
Irondequoit, New York