Archive for the 'Public Domain' Category

Important Public Domain Case: Supreme Court Hears Golan v. Holder

Posted in Copyright, Public Domain on October 6th, 2011

The Supreme Court is now considering the Golan v. Holder case, which has significant implications for public domain works.

Here's an excerpt from the Supreme Court's Granted and Noted List entry that describes the case:

Section 514 of the Uruguay Round Agreements Act of 1994 (Section 514) did something unique in the history of American intellectual property law: It "restored" copyright protection in thousands of works that the Copyright Act had placed in the Public Domain, where they remained for years as the common property of all Americans. The Petitioners in this case are orchestra conductors, educators, performers, film archivists and motion picture distributors, who relied for years on the free availability of these works in the Public Domain, which they performed, adapted, restored and distributed without restriction. The enactment of Section 514 therefore had a dramatic effect on Petitioners' free speech and expression rights, as well as their economic interests. Section 514 eliminated Petitioners' right to perform, share and build upon works they had once been able to use freely. The questions presented are:

  1. Does the Progress Clause of the United States Constitution prohibit Congress from taking works out of the Public Domain?
  2. Does Section 514 violate the First Amendment of the United States Constitution?

Transcripts of the oral arguments are available. The first one has been made public.

Read more about it at "Supreme Court Weighs Legality of Putting Public Domain Works Back under Copyright."

| New: Institutional Repository and ETD Bibliography 2011 | Digital Scholarship |

Carl Malamud Issues Complaint about Smithsonian Institution’s Terms of Use and Licensing Policy

Posted in Copyright, Digital Copyright Wars, Public Domain on August 14th, 2011

Carl Malamud has put up a website, What Would Luther Burbank Do?, that contains a complaint about the Smithsonian Institution's Terms of Use and Licensing Policy. The complaint concerns a take down notice that Mindy Sommers received from the Smithsonian Institution regarding her Vintage Seed Catalog Digital Collage Sheet Five.

Here's an excerpt:

1.1 The Smithsonian Institution's Terms of Use and Licensing Policy are in violation of 17 U.S.C. § 105 (the "works of government" clause of the Copyright Act) and 20 U.S.C. § 41 (the "increase and diffusion of knowledge among men" clause of the Smithsonian Charter). . . . .

6.1 Injunction. That the Smithsonian Institution be instructed to cease and desist all further "take down" notices until this matter has been thoroughly investigated.

6.2 Investigation. That the Board of Regents investigate and analyze the intellectual property policies of the Smithsonian Institution to determine if such policies are in violation of the Copyright Act or the Smithsonian Charter.

6.3 Restitution. That the Smithsonian Institution work with the community to create high-resolution scans of the Seed Displays source material that is not under copyright by external, non-governmental entities and that such high-resolution scans be released on the Internet with no restrictions on use.

| Digital Scholarship |

"Talking about the Public Domain"

Posted in Copyright, Public Domain on July 20th, 2011

Walt Crawford has published "Talking about the Public Domain" in the latest issue of Cites & Insights: Crawford at Large.

Here's an excerpt:

Ah, the public domain: Where creative work is supposed to wind up after a limited period during which the creator has exclusive control over distribution and copying. An ever-growing pool of literature, music, photography, video and art that we can use not only as inspiration but also as the direct basis for new works, annotating, deriving or just plain redistributing.

What a wonderful thing.

Too bad it's basically been frozen for quite a few years now, with almost nothing new entering the pool (except government publications—which start in the public domain) and things tagged with the Creative Commons CC0 license. Oh, and probably a few cases where a creator's been dead more than 70 years and has works produced since 1923.

Not only has it been frozen in the U.S., there are laws and treaties that would appear to shrink the public domain pool—which should, by any rational reading of the Constitution, be flatly unconstitutional.

| Digital Curation and Preservation Bibliography 2010 | Institutional Repository Bibliography | Transforming Scholarly Publishing through Open Access: A Bibliography | Scholarly Electronic Publishing Bibliography 2010 |

Yale Adopts Open Access Policy for Digitized Images

Posted in Digital Archives and Special Collections, Digitization, Open Access, Public Domain on May 12th, 2011

Yale University has adopted an open access policy for digitized images from its museums, archives, and libraries. Yale has also launched the Discover Yale Digital Commons, which has over 250,000 images.

Here's an excerpt from the announcement:

The goal of the new policy is to make high quality digital images of Yale's vast cultural heritage collections in the public domain openly and freely available.

As works in these collections become digitized, the museums and libraries will make those images that are in the public domain freely accessible. In a departure from established convention, no license will be required for the transmission of the images and no limitations will be imposed on their use. The result is that scholars, artists, students, and citizens the world over will be able to use these collections for study, publication, teaching and inspiration.

| Digital Scholarship | Digital Scholarship Publications Overview | Transforming Scholarly Publishing through Open Access: A Bibliography |

"Bibliographic Indeterminacy and the Scale of Problems and Opportunities of ‘Rights’ in Digital Collection Building"

Posted in Copyright, Digitization, Public Domain on February 20th, 2011

The Council on Library and Information Resources has released "Bibliographic Indeterminacy and the Scale of Problems and Opportunities of 'Rights' in Digital Collection Building" as the first paper in its new "Ruminations" series.

Here's an excerpt from the announcement:

CLIR has launched a new publication series, "Ruminations." The series will feature short research papers and essays that bring new perspective to issues related to planning for and managing organizational and institutional change in the evolving digital environment for scholarship and teaching.

We inaugurate the new series with a report by John P. Wilkin that posits the scope of works in the public domain and probable extent of orphan works in our research library collections, based on an analysis of the HathiTrust book corpus. The question of rights status is critical since it governs how works can be used or reused, especially in the digital environment.

Recent research shows that HathiTrust's collection—which currently holds more than 5 million digitized books—is highly representative of research library collections. On this premise, Wilkin has analyzed HathiTrust's holdings and drawn preliminary conclusions about the proportion of works that are in-copyright, in the public domain, or are orphans—that is, works whose holders cannot be located.

| Digital Scholarship | Digital Scholarship Publications Overview |

Public.Resource.Org Launches Yes We Scan

Posted in Open Access, Public Domain on December 1st, 2010

Public.Resource.Org, a 501(c)(3) non-profit corporation, has launched its Yes We Scan campaign to digitize and make available 300 volumes of the First Series of the Federal Reporter.

Here's an excerpt:

Now, you too can help, by adopting one of the 300 volumes of the First Series of the Federal Reporter, which are all out of copyright. Your tax-deductible contribution of $1200 will pay to double-key 1,000 pages of Federal Appellate Opinions, and copies will be donated to the National Archives and the Government Printing Office.

Your name—and the link of your choice—will be inscribed on the Public Domain Wall of Fame and each case in your adopted volume will be a separate HTML file with a common footer

This volume of American Law was transcribed for use on the Internet through a contribution from [Your Name Here!!]

| Digital Scholarship |

"The Size of the EU Public Domain"

Posted in Copyright, Public Domain on October 17th, 2010

Rufus Pollock and Paul Stepan have self-archived "The Size of the EU Public Domain."

Here's an excerpt:

This paper reports results from a large recent study of the public domain in the European Union. Based on a combination of catalogue and survey data our figures for the number of items (and works) in the public domain extend across a variety of media and provide one of the first quantitative estimates of the 'size' of the public domain in any jurisdiction.

See also their related eprint "The Value of the EU Public Domain."

H.R. 5704 Would Extend Copyright Protection to Works of Faculty at Department of Defense Service Academies and Schools of Professional Military Education

Posted in Copyright, Legislation and Government Regulation, Public Domain on July 13th, 2010

Rep. Todd Platts has introduced H.R. 5704 in the House, which would "allow faculty members at Department of Defense service academies and schools of professional military education to secure copyrights for certain scholarly works that they produce as part of their official duties in order to submit such works for publication, and for other purposes." Such works are currently in the public domain.

Read more about it at "Bill Would Curb Access to Government Works."

WIPO: Scoping Study on Copyright and Related Rights and the Public Domain

Posted in Copyright, Public Domain, Reports and White Papers on May 23rd, 2010

The World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) has released Scoping Study on Copyright and Related Rights and the Public Domain.

Here's an excerpt:

Protection of the public domain comprises two steps, as laid down by the [WIPO] Development Agenda: first, identifying the contours of the public domain, thereby helping to assess its value and realm, and, second, considering and promoting the conservation and accessibility of the public domain.

The present study will follow the same direction as it will first assess the scope of the public domain, as defined by copyright laws, history and philosophy, before turning to the issue of its effectiveness and greater availability to the public and society at large. This will lead to the formulation of some recommendations that, by viewing the public domain as material that should receive some positive status and protection, might help to support a robust public domain, as advocated by the Development Agenda.

Europeana Publishes Public Domain Charter

Posted in Copyright, Digital Libraries, Mass Digitizaton, Public Domain on April 14th, 2010

The Europeana Foundation, the governing body of the Europeana service, has published its Public Domain Charter. The Europeana beta currently links users to around 6 million digital objects. About 10 million digital objects are expected to be available this year, when version 1.0 becomes operational.

Here's an excerpt from the announcement:

Today Europeana officially publishes the Public Domain Charter. It takes a strong position in support of the Public Domain, saying that:

Europeana belongs to the public and must represent the public interest. The Public Domain is the material from which society creates cultural understanding and knowledge. Having a thriving Public Domain is essential to economic and social well-being. Digitisation of Public Domain content does not create new rights over it. Works that are in the Public Domain in analogue form continue to be in the Public Domain once they have been digitised. . . .

The Charter is published by the Europeana Foundation, our governing body (now completing its name change from the EDL Foundation). The Charter is a policy statement, not a contract. It doesn't bind any of Europeana's content providers. It recognises the dilemma in which heritage institutions find themselves. Our partners' drive to digitise and make Public Domain content accessible is tempered by a recognition of the costs involved, and the need to arrive at the most appropriate agreements with those who are willing and able to fund digitisation programmes—including the private sector.

We are developing plans to label the rights associated with a digitised item very clearly so that they are understood by Europeana's users, who will be able to exclude content from their results that requires payment or doesn't comply with the Public Domain Charter. Rights labelling will become a requirement when submitting content to Europeana by the end of this year.

While Public-Private Partnerships are an important means of getting content digitised, the Charter recommends that deals are non-exclusive, for very limited time periods, and don't take material out of the Public Domain.

U.S. National Archives Become Member of the Flickr Commons

Posted in Copyright, Digital Archives and Special Collections, Public Domain on February 8th, 2010

The U.S. National Archives have become a member of the Flickr Commons. To join the Commons, members must "claim 'no known copyright restrictions' on the content they share." Here's the National Archives' photostream.

Here's an excerpt from the press release:

To mark the opening of its photostream in the Commons today, the National Archives is posting a new photo set containing more than two hundred photographs of the American West by renowned American photographer Ansel Adams. The photographs, taken between 1941 and 1942 as part of a Department of the Interior mural project, feature the Grand Canyon, Yellowstone, Glacier and Zion national parks, in addition to Death Valley, Saguero, and Canyon de Chelly national monuments.

The Ansel Adams photographs join a larger selection of more than 3,000 National Archives images that are part of the National Archives' Flickr photostream. The photostream contains a variety of images from some of the National Archives most popular collections, including images of the Civil War by Mathew Brady and associates; images from the Environmental Protection Agency's 1970s photo-documentary project DOCUMERICA; images from the Records of the Women's Bureau depicting women in the war labor effort during World War II; and a grouping of favorite photos and documents from the National Archives, featuring among others the 1970 photograph of President Nixon shaking hands with Elvis Presley.

The Public Domain Manifesto

Posted in Copyright, Digital Copyright Wars, Public Domain on January 24th, 2010

COMMUNIA has released The Public Domain Manifesto and seeks organizations and individuals to sign it. The Creative Commons, James Boyle, and Lawrence Lessig are among the current signatories.

Here's an excerpt:

  1. The Public Domain is the rule, copyright protection is the exception. Since copyright protection is granted only with respect to original forms of expression, the vast majority of data, information and ideas produced worldwide at any given time belongs to the Public Domain. In addition to information that is not eligible for protection, the Public Domain is enlarged every year by works whose term of protection expires. The combined application of the requirements for protection and the limited duration of the copyright protection contribute to the wealth of the Public Domain so as to ensure access to our shared culture and knowledge.
  2. Copyright protection should last only as long as necessary to achieve a reasonable compromise between protecting and rewarding the author for his intellectual labour and safeguarding the public interest in the dissemination of culture and knowledge. From neither the perspective of the author nor the general public do any valid arguments exist (whether historical, economic, social or otherwise) in support of an exceedingly long term of copyright protection. While the author should be able to reap the fruits of his intellectual labour, the general public should not be deprived for an overly long period of time of the benefits of freely using those works.
  3. What is in the Public Domain must remain in the Public Domain. Exclusive control over Public Domain works must not be reestablished by claiming exclusive rights in technical reproductions of the works, or using technical protection measures to limit access to technical reproductions of such works.
  4. The lawful user of a digital copy of a Public Domain work should be free to (re-)use, copy and modify such work. The Public Domain status of a work does not necessarily mean that it must be made accessible to the public. The owners of physical works that are in the Public Domain are free to restrict access to such works. However once access to a work has been granted then there ought not be legal restrictions on the re-use, modification or reproduction of these works.
  5. Contracts or technical protection measures that restrict access to and re-use of Public Domain works must not be enforced. The Public Domain status of a work guarantees the right to re-use, modify and reproduce. This also includes user prerogatives arising from exceptions and limitations, fair use and fair dealing, ensuring that these cannot be limited by contractual or technological means.

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