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peter_hirtle

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  • Jul 15th, 2016 @ 9:16am

    Is the article public domain?

    It is far from clear that the official writings of Obama are in the public domain. It is true that "Section 105 of US copyright law makes it quite explicit that 'any work of the United States Government" cannot be covered by copyright." But the definition of a "work of the United States Government" found in Section 101 amplifies that these works are by "an officer or employee of the United States Government." The president is not an officer; under the Appointments clause of the Constitution he has the authority to appoint officers of the US government, hence cannot be one himself. As head of state, he is probably not an employee of the government.

    The assumption through most of US history since Justice Story's opinion in Folsom v. Marsh has been that the president owned both the copyright and the physical property in his papers. The Presidential Records Act transferred physical ownership of the papers to the US government, but it is silent as to copyright.

    In short, an argument could be made that Obama does own the copyright in his presidential writings.

  • Dec 29th, 2012 @ 7:21am

    First sale rights in CDs are already limited (as Peter Hirtle)

    The label on the CD may be correct. Look at 17 USC 109(b)(1)(A):

    "...unless authorized by the owners of copyright in the sound recording or the owner of copyright in a computer program (including any tape, disk, or other medium embodying such program), and in the case of a sound recording in the musical works embodied therein, neither the owner of a particular phonorecord nor any person in possession of a particular copy of a computer program (including any tape, disk, or other medium embodying such program), may, for the purposes of direct or indirect commercial advantage, dispose of, or authorize the disposal of, the possession of that phonorecord or computer program (including any tape, disk, or other medium embodying such program) by rental, lease, or lending, or by any other act or practice in the nature of rental, lease, or lending./blockquote>

    This section is why there are not CD-rental stores in this country but there are DVD-rental stores.

    The key question is whether loaning a CD to a friend represents "direct or indirect commercial advantage." Some courts have suggested that avoiding purchasing something is indirect commercial advantage. The fact that the next sentence in the section explicitly authorizes library lending of CDs, something that one would think would not be considered to be "direct or indirect commercial advantage," might lead one to conclude that "indirect commercial advantage" should be read broadly and could exclude some loans to friends.

    I would hope that the courts would conclude that loaning a CD to a friend was not an infringing act, but as far as I know, there has been no case law on the matter.