Re: WEST-THOMSON- DOJ Lette

From: Steve Jamar <sjamar[_at_]law.howard.edu>
Date: Sat, 14 Sep 1996 08:49:23 -0400

John Lederer <johnl[_at_]ibm.net> wrote:
>
> On 09/12/96, sjamar[_at_]law.howard.edu (Steve Jamar) said:

>>
>> Watergate predates the Berne amendments to the Copyright Statute and so
>> there would have had to have been notice and claim and registration etc.
>> for there to be copyright claims.
>>
>> If it is a federal government document, there is no copyright.
>>
>> The original question was, I thought, about a letter from a
>> non-governmental person to the government.  That, it would seem to me,
>> is not covered by the government waiver of copyright.

>
> Not to single this comment out of several, but doesn't it inpress you
> all that there is something fundamentally wrong when we are discussing
> copyright as a means of preventing the dissemination of letters sent
> to the government which may form the basis of its actions?
>
> Is this the progress of knowledge that the Constitution posits as the
> reason for copyright?
>
> Might there be something fundmentally wrong with the Berne convention's
> premise that *all* material should be locked up in the vaults of
> licensing?
>
> The political discourse, the advancement of science, the sharing of
> ideas that our founders regarded with such importance seem to have
> become minor anomalous exceptions under a system whose overriding
> imperative seems to be to be to avoid the possibility that people
> may not pay for their videos.

Well, it seems to me that there is likely an implied license, if not an explicit one, for dissemination to the public if you are commenting publicly on public matters. But I think that many communications to the government are not public and indeed are kept private for policy reasons. (Promote candor, etc.)

Steve Jamar
<sjamar[_at_]law.howard.edu> Received on Sat Sep 14 1996 - 12:56:22 GMT

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