There is a UseNet newsgroups called misc.legal and another,
misc.legal.moderated. You would probably get some useful
discussion going by posting there.
IIRC copyright is protected or the life of the author plus 70
years. The US government does not enforce its copyrights
on material created by the government itself. Material
created by Federal contractors may or may not be
protected. Some contractors aggressively assert
copyright in situations that seem, well, questionable.
It sounds like the new 'author' should be 'outed' but I dunno
what consequences that might have for your friend.
Good idea. Actually though, I have no idea if the original is still
under copyright. My feeling is that even if it were public domain there
is still an ethical boundary that has been crossed. Lawyers are a great
source for legal advice, but you have to be more careful of the ethical
stuff because they use an entirely different system based on clients,
the law, and winning, and for some this colors other parts of their lives.
That's relatively novel. Up until '76 there was a maintenance
requirement, and the term's always been shorter than that (extensions
always preceding the fall of Mickey Mouse into the public domain. Makes
you think about all that other work that is being lost, eh?)
I guess we're going to find out, because he's already done it. :)
I may as well give the URLs:
l'Originale "The Unwritten Laws of Engineering":
(Amazon.com product link shortened)(3155
the phoney "The Unwritten Rules of Management":
(here are the "rules" as copied verbatim (with minor, sparse grammatical
changes) from the original (copyright 1944, ASME press) book by WJ King.
(an interview in which the new author describes the creation and
assembly of his "rules", seemingly from whole cloth)
l'Expose: http://www.neuromatix.net/Blog /
I'm going to suggest that to my friend. :)
I also found later that the ASME has republished an updated version of
it in 2001, so even with changes to reflect social evolution they may be
in the position of having maintained copyright.
Definitely. particularly misc.legal.moderated.
However, he'll have to be a _lot_ more specific, to get anything
approaching a meaningful answer.
For older works, it is a _lot_ more complicated than that, unfortunately..
It depends on:
*IF* the original work was copyrighted -- required _registration_ with
the Library of Congress.
If the copyright required renewal before the Berne Convention changes
and if so, whether or not it _was_ renewed.
If copyright was still in force at the time of the Berne Convention
If the copyright had been renewed, and subsequently expired, was the
filing made 'restoring' copyright under Berne Convention rules.
If copyright in effect when Berne adopted, 'life plus (now) 70 yrs' applies
If original copyright had expired, and was not renewed, it is in public domain.
If original copyright renewed, and not expired when Berne adopted, 'life plus
(now) 70 yrs' applies.
If original copyright renewed, and expired, and 'restoration' notice not
filed, it is in public domain.
If original copyright renewed, and expired, and 'restoration' notice was
filed, 'life plus (now) 70 yrs' applies
In reality, the situation is even _messier_ than above. because the value
of 'n', for 'life plus n years' has been changed more than once. creating
some additional classes of works eligible for 'restoration' of copyright,
*if* the appropriate notice was filed with the gov't/
Correction: 'Created by the government' is _NOT_ eligible for copyright
protection. This is expressly stated in the copyright statute. The
government may, however, hold copyright rights that were transferred
_to_ the gov't by a third party.
According to the Berne Convention, 'created by the government'
IS eligible, without regard to which government. 'Eligibility'
depends on the thing that is created, not the identification
of the creator. The 'right' is an intellectual property
right that is cocreated with the work in question. The US
has, by statute, prohibitted itself from enforcing its copyrights
on material originally created by the US government.
Yes. The US government can also transfer its copyrights for
material 'created by the government' to private parties as was
done with most of the Landsat imagery during the Reagan
What the Berne Convention says doesn't mean sh*t, if the laws that
implement the agreement say something different.
In the U.S., the laws implementing the Berne Convention accords state:
"Copyright protection under this title is not available for works
of the United States Government."
It does _not_ say that "the U.S.G. will not enforce it's copyright on
any works it creates."
*IF* there was an un-enforced copyright on 'works of the U.S. Government',
Then the U.S.G. could assign, transfer, or sell, that 'intellectual
property' to 'someone else', who then _could_ enforce the "rights" associated
Since, however, the statute expressly states that there is 'no protection'
for works of the U.S.G, that _cannot_ happen. There is no 'thing of value'
(intellectual property) there to be sold, transferred, or assigned. Copyright
protection simply *does*not*exist* for those works. Since copyright protection
does not exist _under_any_circumstances_ for those works, it is entirely
accurate to describe those works as 'not being eligible for copyright
Prohibited itself, *or*anyone*else* who might hold those 'rights' at some
time, from doing so. Since NO ONE can _ever_ enforce such 'rights', this
is indistinguishable from the "non-existence" of that right, as regards
those works. IOW, those works are "not eligible" for protection, because,
for those works, the right _does_not_exist_.
No, it CANNOT. There is *no* copyright protection for such works.
Per 17 USC 105:
"Copyright protection under this title is not available for any work of
the United States Government, ....."
A work of the U.S. Government is still a work of the U.S. government,
regardless of whom has subsequently purchased the work (or the reproduction
rights for that work).
Since copyright protection is not available for that work, *regardless* of
who owns it (or the 'reproduction rights'), the work is is *NOT* protected
Those private parties are selling copyrighted works, based on the Landsat
imagery. What they are selling is _not_ the original government work,
but their 'derived work' (noise-filtered, composited, mosaiced, etc.) based
on the government product. Their claimed copyright extends *only* to the
creative effort involved in producing the derivative work, _not_ to the
underlying 'raw' imagery.
Their 'exclusive' access to the 'raw' imagery is strictly a matter of a
private contractual arrangement with the original owner -- who agreed,
for a fee, to _not_ sell the same stuff to anybody else.
If 'somebody else', by whatever means, nefarious or otherwise, would happen
to get their hands on the 'raw' imagery, and started offering it for sale,
this would *not* be a violation of the copyright held by the derivative-work
Oh, right. Copyright PROTECTION is not available. It is the protection
that is not available. The copyrights exist, not withstanding that
they are not protected.
Your statement was essentially correct.
The inavailability of copyright PROTECTION means the government
will not (as it cannot) PROTECT its copyrights.
Note the statute does not state that the copyright does not exist
or that it cannot be ransferred to another party.
'Reproduction rights' ARE a component of copyright by definition.
While they may have sold processed imagery, they certainly
also sold unenhanced imagery exactly as it was received from
Perhaps we should locate and read that contract. ISTR that others
were prohibitted from distributing the raw LandSat imagery that
was transferred, which if so, is therfor indistinguishible from a
transfer of copyright.
If transferred to another party, it is *still* unenforceable, to use
"Copyright protection under this title is not available for works
of the United States Government."
A thing which no one can enforce is no different than a thing which
does not exist.
e.g., I have the _only_ copy remaining in existence of a book printed in 1850,
in Philadelphia, Penn, USA.
I'm sure you will agree that there is no copyright in effect on that work.
I can, however, sell permission to reproduce copies of that book. and agree
not to sell that same permission to anyone else.
Now, if, after having done so, I loan that book to someone else, who
photocopies the pages without (or even with) my knowledge, and starts
selling copies of *those* pages, the poor guy who 'bought' from me is
just SOL. I haven't breached my contract with him, 'somebody else' is
not bound by that contract, and no 'statutory' prohibition to their
You *have* to be 'recalling' incorrectly. "Doctrine of first sale" trumps
contract terms restricting buyers actions (except in the case of real
property, and restrictions that 'run with the land'), *absent* other
statutory provisions (such as copyright -- which is _not_ applicable
in this situation) that constrain the buyer from 'doing as he will' with
that which he owns outright.
Correction, the copyright owner can sue an infringer. Typically
for journal articles the copyright is transferred from the author
to the publisher prior to publication and retained by the publisher
Said friend was contacted by a journalist, iirc claiming to be from the
nyt, and who reported that contacting officials of Raytheon she was told
that ceo had collected his pearls over the years from many sources...
and that the book was being given away free so there was no monetary gain...
The bad on that is the ceo is already credited with turning the company
around. He was doing all right.
I predict that in the minds of many (who've adopted "business ethics" as
their own) that will be enough to exonerate him of all harm or
That is what it says in the USA today article.
Monetary gain on the part of an infringer is irrelevant. A work
is infringed if it is copied unless the act qualifies for exemptions
specified in the statute, the copier has the permission of the
coyright owner, or the work is in the public domain.
Monetary loss on the part of the copyright owner is an issue,
not in determining if infringement has occurred, but in determing
The ASME sells "The Unwritten Laws of Engineering", so if the
work in question infirnges on the ASME's copyrights then
each copy distributed may be construed as costing the ASME
money, even though the infringer loses money copying and
distributing the work.
My guess is that the ASME will receive (or already has received)
a licensing fee from Raytheon, perhaps in the form of a donation.
It is entirely possible that a licensing deal was cut with the
ASME prior to publication so that no infringement occurred.
I'm also inclined to guess that it was ghost written--which has
some rather amusing implications. One wonders, for example,
if the _USA Today_ article was written by the same author...
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