[SIGCIS-Members] Copyright advice sought

Ceruzzi, Paul CeruzziP at si.edu
Thu Jul 12 12:59:38 PDT 2018

It may be worth noting that the RAND Corporation was/is a so-called “FFRDC” – federally-funded research and development center. After World War II a number of them were set up, mainly (as I understand it) to allow its employees to receive higher salaries than allowed by the civil service system. But they were paid with government funds (i.e. taxes). The same holds true for the university lab with an air force contract. The line between an FFRDC and a traditional government research lab (e.g. the National Bureau of Standards/NIST) can be very fuzzy. As one colleague of mine remarked, “How do you know if the person works for an FFRDC or a government lab? Visit their house, and if they have Picasso paintings on the wall, they work for an FFRDC.”

So to answer your question, go ahead & use the images. As for the advertisements, you do need to show that you made a good-faith effort. I have done this, and in some cases it turned out to be fun, believe it or not, to track down the evolution of technical trade journals like Electronics or Datamation.

Paul Ceruzzi
ceruzzip at si.edu<mailto:ceruzzip at si.edu>

From: Members <members-bounces at lists.sigcis.org> On Behalf Of Bernard Geoghegan
Sent: Thursday, July 12, 2018 2:21 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.



Bernard Dionysius Geoghegan
Senior Lecturer in the History and Theory of Digital Media

Department of Digital Humanities
King's College London
The Strand Building
Room S3.08

Office: +44 (0)20 7848 4750
Cell:  +44 (0)75 7713 9098
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