Re: copyright? Extracting the public domain parts.

From: David Dailey <David.P.Dailey[_at_]williams.edu>
Date: Tue, 21 Mar 1995 18:08:24 -0500

Buford Terrell writes: (and I'll keep the quoting short, I hope (:
>
>The real problem with all of Mr. Dailey's examples is that they
>begin with making a copy to be manipulated, which is, according
>to current theory, the making of an infringing copy itself. the
>fact that the infringer then destroys evidence of his infringement
>may exacerbate, not excuse, his original infringement.

I had written about three scenarios -- one where we use a program to "scavenge" the public domain parts of an otherwise proprietary publication (e.g. extracting the case law part of Westlaw); another in which we reconstruct an original photographic event (based on temporary use of an actual photo), restage it, rework lighting and camera angles, and then "shoot" a new virtual photo; and another in which we take an image from an Internet site (like wuarchive) and doctor it, leaving publically visible footprints to the site of the "original."

In the case of West v. Mead, I thought (perhaps wrongly, through my oft oversimplified interpretations of hearsay) that what the court objected to was not that Mead was copying the public domain parts of West's material but that they were copying West's embellishments.

In my example of finding something on the Internet and then "using" it to make a derivative work, I take it that I would be liable even if I made direct citation to the source where I found it. In other words, in order to use anything from the Internet, one is compelled to either

  1. research the original authorship and obtain permission or
  2. find notice (accompanying the material) which explicitly states that the material is useable in such and such a way.

I would also draw attention to the fact that in this example, the material is fixed in RAM (as for viewing the material) but the derivative work is the only version that ever came to reside in a more permanent form of storage. The seemingly strong position advocated by Mr. Terrell would seem to hold any of us liable for clicking on a link to a home page which happened to illegally hold copyrighted material. In my example of the derivative work, I have not copied the work from the other site, EXCEPT into RAM -- and yet a user of WWW (or even gopher for that matter) will very often find themselves reading text (from RAM) for which they have no explicit legal right to read, except for the permissions extended by the system managers at the host site.

>again, if I make the source of my potential infringement
>explicitly known, then is not the copyright holder's complaint with
>the administrators of the other site, rather than with me?

David Dailey
ddailey[_at_]williams.edu Received on Tue Mar 21 1995 - 23:13:14 GMT

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