By now, most people know about the macaque monkeys that took pictures of themselves in the Indonesian jungle, and the controversy over who, if anyone, owns a copyright in the resulting pictures.  The events actually took place several years ago, but the popular news media has recently picked up the story because of threats by [...]

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I recently received an email from an author asking me if I would write a post about why we need a public domain.  Specifically, the questioner asked me why some things pass into the public domain while others do not; his example was that if you write a song, it eventually becomes PD, but if [...]

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[NB -- Sharp-eyed readers have pointed out correctly that the authors listed in the first paragraph (at the *) all died in 1963, not 1943.  The list should have included Stephan Vincent Benet, Simone Weil, Radclyffe Hall, Beatrix Potter and R.G. Collingwood as those who died in 1943 and whose works, therefore, would be entering [...]

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It is well known that early publishing houses in America built themselves up, in large part, through the publication of unauthorized editions of popular British authors.  This was a time when foreign works, including English-language books published in Britain, did not enjoy copyright protection in the U.S.  Indeed, books published abroad in English did not [...]

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One type of question that I get over and over again from faculty and graduate students involves copyright and images of art works held in museums.  In fact, question is probably the wrong name for these discussions; mostly I try to be sympathetic as the researcher bemoans the thicket of claims and permission costs in [...]

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The conference on Orphan Works & Mass Digitization, hosted by the Law School at the University of California, Berkeley last week, was exciting — at least to the 230 copyright geeks like me who attended — and filled with well-researched papers.  The three White Papers that were prepared by the Samuelson Law, Technology [...]

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Losing our focus

On January 18, 2012 By

Today the Supreme Court issued a decision in the case of Golan v. Holder which is a significant defeat, I think, for the public domain in the United States.  Reading the opinion has made me wonder if we have really strayed from our fundamental commitments about intellectual property.

The case involved the complex and technical [...]

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The Supreme Court on Monday granted certiorari , which is the technical language for agreeing to hear a case, in Golan v. Holder, a copyright case with potentially significant implications for the public domain in the U.S.  I wrote about this case back in 2009, when it was first decided by a federal District [...]

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Curb your enthusiasm

On January 4, 2011 By

Happy New Year to all!

Just before and after the first of the new year, I saw a flurry of e-mails and blog posts celebrating this year’s Public Domain Day.  January 1 is the day on which all the material whose copyright expired during the previous year officially rises into the public domain and becomes [...]

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Fashioning innovation

On December 8, 2010 By

I do not usually use this space simply to offer links to other resources without adding my own comments, but this 16 minute video by Johanna Blakely of the Norman Lear Center at USC — “Lessons from fashion’s free culture” –  is so good there is very little I can add.

Dr. Blakely discusses, [...]

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