For EU countries, the United States and many other countries, copyright on published works is normally in existence till seventy years after the death of the author. Some countries have different copyright rules, as this article shows. Interestingly enough, France has a Mort pour la France category. What this means is that for members of the French military forces who died in action or from an injury or an illness contracted during the service during the First and Second World Wars, the Indochina and Algeria Wars, and fighting in Morocco and the Tunisian War of Independence, and to French civil casualties killed during these conflicts copyright is extended by thirty years. So if you want to publish, for example, Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, you can do so royalty-free in most of the world but not in France. The same applies to Irène Némirovsky and other writers mentioned on the site linked above. Spain also has an exception, with copyright extending to eighty years after death for writers born before 1979. This means that writers such as Miguel de Unamuno, Ramón María Valle-Inclán and Federico García-Lorca have only just entered the public domain in Spain, though they have been in the public domain for ten years in most other countries. Here is a list of all the Spanish writers who died in 1936.
However, as regards the main rules, this means that the copyright has expired for most authors who died in 1946. Quite a few interesting authors did die in 1946 and their works can now be published royalty-free. Here is a list of some of them:
- Alcides Arguedas, one of the three writers on my site, who died in 1946
- Gerhart Hauptmann, whose plays very much influenced James Joyce
- John Maynard Keynes
- Henry Handel Richardson, one of the three writers on my site, who died in 1946
- Damon Runyon
- Gertrude Stein, one of the three writers on my site, who died in 1946
- H G Wells
Here is a more detailed list and two in German here and here. The latter list includes Alfred Rosenberg and Joachim von Ribbentrop, both executed at Nuremberg but presumably even nasty Nazis have copyright protection.