[SIGCIS-Members] Copyright advice sought

David C. Brock dcb at dcbrock.net
Thu Jul 12 12:38:32 PDT 2018


I just asked a copyright/fair use expert who said he thought you could just go ahead and use this in a journal article under fair use.

I’ve asked him if I could post his full reply.


+++++++++++++++
David C. Brock
dcb at dcbrock.net
40 Russell Street, Greenfield, MA 01301 
Mobile: 413-522-3578 
Skype: dcbrock 
Twitter: @dcbrock

> On Jul 12, 2018, at 3:27 PM, Alexander Sayf Cummings <alexcummings at gsu.edu> wrote:
> 
> Hi Bernard,
> 
> I believe Bill is correct. In principle, works before the 1976 Copyright Act had to be registered for copyright or otherwise the creator/publisher would lose any rights -- meaning that much ephemera like advertising is probably not technically under copyright. However, most libraries and publishers basically regard anything post-1923 as being under copyright, for reasons of legal liability.  In my experience, publishers have been willing to use an item, such as an image, if a good-faith effort to locate the copyright holder (which is frequently nearly impossible) and seek permission is made.  
> 
> As for the RAND stuff and all that, I would agree that only works created directly by a government employee or agency are in the public domain.  Works contracted from outside consultants would likely be their IP.  I doubt this is terribly helpful, but the main takeaway is that this stuff is generally much fuzzier and vaguer than many people try to say.  It's mostly about avoiding liability, most of the time.
> 
> Best,
> 
> Alex
> 
> On Thu, Jul 12, 2018 at 3:18 PM McMillan, William W <william.mcmillan at cuaa.edu <mailto:william.mcmillan at cuaa.edu>> wrote:
> Bernard, as I understand it, a work is copyrighted when it's created and fixed in a tangible medium.  No need to register the copyright (though that's a good idea).  At least nowadays -- not sure about the 1950s and 1960s.
> 
> Government works are in the public domain if created by a government employee (and not secret, I guess).  This doesn't apply to works created for the government by a contractor such as IBM or Rand.
> 
> Proprietary information, if it can be considered a trade secret, is protected forever without registration.  But if it's readily available, it would be hard to assert that it gives away a trade secret.
> 
> For advertisements, I would seek permission from the company or its descendant (if there is one).  Even if out of copyright, you're presenting the company's face to the public, and it would be a courtesy to let them give you their blessing.  Also, they would want to know about it... might even like it!
> 
> I think you're safest to get permission for anything for which you aren't sure that the copyright has expired due to the passage of time.
> 
> ... but I'm not an attorney, and I don't even play one on TV!  Have just taught some of the basics of IP to computer science students.
> 
> - Bill
> 
> ________________________________
> From: Members [members-bounces at lists.sigcis.org <mailto:members-bounces at lists.sigcis.org>] on behalf of Bernard Geoghegan [bernardgeoghegan2010 at u.northwestern.edu <mailto:bernardgeoghegan2010 at u.northwestern.edu>]
> Sent: Thursday, July 12, 2018 2:20 PM
> To: members at SIGCIS.org
> Subject: [SIGCIS-Members] Copyright advice sought
> 
> Dear Members,
> 
> 
> I’m looking for some copyright tips. I’d be grateful for feedback. I’m trying to figure out if I need copyright holder permission to reproduce in an academic publication images from the following items that appeared in print between 1923 and 1963, i.e. a period when things normally require explicit copyright renewal to stay out of the public domain. I can’t figure out if some of these materials count as government documents. Unless noted, none of these materials come from an archive or otherwise privileged source.
> 
> 
> 
>   1.  Figures from IBM manuals for SAGE from 1958. There’s no evidence the manual was copyrighted, nor that the copyright was renewed, but there is a statement in the manuals that reads “This document contains information of a proprietary nature. Any use or reproduction of this document for other than government purposes is subject to the prior consent of International Business Machines Corporation.”
>   2.  A figure from a 1950s RAND memo prepared for the US Air Force—no evidence that it was copyrighted, nor that the copyright was renewed. There is a statement on the cover that permission must be sought from RAND to quote or reproduce its contents.
>   3.  Figures from a 1947 report produced by a university-based laboratory for the US Air Force, no evidence that it was copyrighted, nor that copyright was renewed. I don’t think it was publicly circulated. I got my copy from a US government archive.
>   4.  Pre-1964 magazine advertisements, I have no information about their copyright status.
> 
> 
> 
> Thanks for your advice, colleagues.
> 
> 
> 
> Best,
> 
> Bernard
> 
> 
> 
> 
> 
> --
> Bernard Dionysius Geoghegan
> Senior Lecturer in the History and Theory of Digital Media
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> 
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> 
> 
> -- 
> 
> Dr. Alex Sayf Cummings
> 
> Associate Professor
> Georgia State University
> Department of History
> 25 Park Place, Suite 2008
> Atlanta, GA 30303
> 
> Democracy of Sound: Music Piracy and the Remaking of American Copyright in the Twentieth Century (Oxford, 2013): https://goo.gl/D3jfPk <https://goo.gl/D3jfPk>
> 
> Tropics of Meta: http://www.tropicsofmeta.com <http://www.tropicsofmeta.com/>
> 
> "One thing which has not changed is that none of us, no matter what continent or island or ice cap, asked to be born in the first place, and that even somebody as old as I am, which is 80, only just got here. There were already all these games going on when I got here.  An apt motto for any polity anywhere, to put on its state seal or currency or whatever, might be this quotation from the late baseball manager Casey Stengel, who was addressing a team of losing professional athletes: 'Can’t anybody here play this game?'"                              
> 
> -- Kurt Vonnegut, 2003
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