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Klarinet Archive - Posting 000293.txt from 2000/07

From: Oliver Seely <oliver@-----.edu>
Subj: Re: [kl] Re: Original scores for festival judges.
Date: Thu, 6 Jul 2000 23:20:15 -0400

At 11:17 PM 7/6/00 -0400, Mark wrote:

>Oliver,
>you can't copyright public domain material (the presentation is not
>copyrightable), so the copyright is moot. Your work is most definitely
>"sweat of the brow", and we all thank you.

I just pulled down a copy of "The Communist Manifesto," from my bookshelf
and it says, on the reverse side of the title page,
Copyright @-----.
This book, or parts thereof, must not be reproduced in any form without
permission of the publishers.

Here's another good one for the Holy Bible:
Old Testament Sections, Copyright 1952, by Division of Christian Education
of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of
America.
New Testament Sections, Copyright 1946, by etc.

It is a curious fact of U.S. Copyright that there is no requirement that
the copyright claimant state up front just what it is that he is
copyrighting. In the majority opinion of the Feist Publications vs. Rural
Telephone Services case, Sandra Day O'Connor wrote of copyright being for
the "whole" work even though she made clear that large sections of the
whole work might include uncopyrightable material. Moreover, there is no
penalty for falsely making such a copyright claim. Since copyright moves
along according to case law, someone would have to challenge the claim and
to see the matter through the courts before there was a resolution. As a
matter of record, Rural Telephone Services copyrighted its white pages and
its claim was shown not to be valid, but my guess is that the company had a
team of lawyers which argued the reverse. =20

There is method to my madness on at least two levels in the statement
Copyright @-----.
First, I'm rather poking fun at people who are so presumptuous as to place
a copyright statement on new presentations of materials which have passed
into the public domain.
Secondly, if such a copyright of a new presentation of public domain
materials would stand up in court, and since there seems in any case to be
no penalty for falsely claiming such a copyright, in the few fractions of a
second in which I write the first half of the statement above, I project
the illusion that it is MINE, ALL MINE. U.S. Copyright law allows
copyright holders to assign that which is copyrighted to the public domain,
and so in the few fractions of a second which follow, I offer the illusion
of giving it all away. But in a more sober moment I have no illusion about
"owning" anything of value. Let's just say it is my folly. The Internet
gives me the opportunity to be a philanthropist on a very low budget.

Oliver

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