• http://www.downes.ca Stephen Downes

    Yeah. Has anyone *ever* been proscuted under that?

  • http://astron.berkeley.edu/~jhall/ joe

    that “freedom of expression” trademark you pointed out at iLaw today is pretty interesting as well…

  • http://sethf.com/ Seth Finkelstein

    Ehhh, give ‘em a break. It’s a template. It would probably be annoyingly difficult to remove the copyright notice for just that one article.

    It’s like the disclaimer
    “Google is not affiliated with the authors of this page nor responsible for its content.”
    that comes up on the … drumroll …

    cached version of the front page for Google

  • http://www.neverending.org/~ftobin/ Frank Tobin

    While it’s true that it’s probably difficult for them to remove that statement, there is a large difference between asserting copyright privileges over something and basically asserting the negative of it, as Google is doing. The problem is that, similar to lengthy contracts that demand thousands of things, but then say “some clauses maybe be void depending on jurisidiction”, you really can’t tell *what* the contract covers. Given any content on the Boston Globe site, you really can’t tell for sure if it’s copyrighted by Boston Globe, copyrighted by someone else, or in the public domain, given their blanket policy of attaching a copyright notice to each piece.

  • http://sethf.com/ Seth Finkelstein

    Absolutely correct. You cannot, from a boilerplate template notice, tell fine-tuned copyright distinctions regarding reproduction of other’s works.

    This is exactly the problem which Creative Commons licensing has encountered :-) (sorry!)

  • Lessig

    I’m sure that getting the facts right in general is “annoyingly difficult,” though I’m not sure why that’s a reason to give them a break when they don’t.

  • Dave

    17 USC 506c demands “fraudulent intent” and I’m sure that the Washington Post would have little trouble showing that since this was done en masse, it is a mistake, and therefore (legally) they cannot be blamed in the least. IP laws can be frustrating.

  • http://sethf.com/ Seth Finkelstein

    Much more interesting is, for example a story reprinted from the Washington Post, which also has the template-driven Boston Globe copyright notice.

    Looking at their Copyright notice, I suppose they could have an excuse that in some cases they’re merely talking about compilation copyright, though again it’s obviously a template issue.

  • http://home.telepath.com/~hrothgar Timothy R. Phillips

    One must read copyright notices between the lines. When they say “Copyright 2003″ they mean “Copyrightable components (if any) copyright 2003″. Still, it’s annoying to see copyright notices in inappropriate places. One wishes the giants of the publishing industry would show a little more discernment.

    On a related topic, this article:


    has some funny incidents listed under “Mistakes and Mix-ups” (near the end of the article). Here is one I hadn’t heard of before:

    “Last winter, the federally funded Internet Archive in California got a notice alleging it had an illegal copy of submarine movie “U-571.” In fact, the archive had an old public domain film about the joys of sewing; some code numbers resembled the U-boat title.”

  • moof

    Surely the Declaration of Independence has passed into the Public Domain by now. Sure, this particular derivative work may not be very original, just an HTML adaptation, but that shouldn’t stop the Globe from claiming copyright to their copy. Just like Disney did with Pocahontas and the like. :-p

  • Lessig

    Now that’s a great point. Maybe it is just the html-ized version that is being claimed. I’ve not seen any cases on whether html-izing something is enough to overcome the originality requirement. But it would be a healthily limited way of understanding the assertion.

    More generally, however, I think this issue of overclaiming copyright protection is an important and unappreciated problem for the public domain. There is much great harm done by publishers regularly claiming rights that they do not have than by most of the p2p behavior that the RIAA attack. Claims over the public domain stifle new creativity — at least the new creativity that can’t afford a lawyer.

  • http://www.bbcity.co.uk Tom Morris

    “Claims over the public domain stifle new creativity”

    Maybe, but not in this case – everybody KNOWS that the Declaration is PD. And so this is, at best, a relatively amusing gaff. The Copyright meanwhile could be in relation to the design of the page – in which case they’d have to argue that in court.

    Perhaps we really need a better system with XML to mark out what is and what is not licenced in different ways – CC goes some way – but I’d like to mark on a site which images are licenced differently. It could be a tag – you could have the LICENCE tag, with the attributes PUBLICDOMAIN, CC=”-the-name-of-the-CC-you-are-using”, GPL (etc.) or ARR (all rights reserved). Therefore if I had a page with someone elses photograph on, I could include a LICENCE tag around it saying it is theres and they have all rights reserved on it.

  • http://www.glome.org/ Trevor Hill

    I agree that this case in particular is moot due to the “with fraudulent intent” clause in the law.

    Tools incorporating copyright claims on a per-story or per-item basis would be the most helpful thing in preventing misunderstanding by laymen.