3.750 copyright, cont. (97)

Willard McCarty (MCCARTY@vm.epas.utoronto.ca)
Wed, 15 Nov 89 21:02:42 EST

Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 3, No. 750. Wednesday, 15 Nov 1989.

(1) Date: Wed, 15 Nov 89 10:07:00 EST (33 lines)
Subject: Copyright

(2) Date: Wed, 15 Nov 89 08:09:48 CST (44 lines)
From: "Michael S. Hart" <HART@UIUCVME.BITNET>
Subject: Re: 3.725 copyright meditations (188)

(1) --------------------------------------------------------------------
Date: Wed, 15 Nov 89 10:07:00 EST
Subject: Copyright

There are some of facts of law which may be of relevance to the copyright

1. Under the current United States copyright law, the owner of a
copyright has the exclusive right to prepare "derivative works". The
statutory definition of a derivative work includes translations,
arrangements, dramatizations, fictionalizations, films, recordings,
abridgments, condensations, "Or any other form in which a work may be
recast, transformed, or adapted." (17 U.S.C.A. paragraph 106(2))

2. This right was strengthened in the 1976 copyright act, before which
derivative works were regarded somewhat inconsistently.

3. I am sure that this right protects works in copyright from being
transfered, without permission, into electronic form. (I don't know of
any explicit case law to support this.)

4. The copyrightability of reproductions is established in law. It is
based on the fact that the copyist has originated the reproduction. The
underlying subject matter is not protected, but reproducing the
reproduction is a violation of copyright. (This is established by cases
involving the reproduction of art, e.g. Alfred Bell v. Catalda Fine Arts
(in 2nd Circuit court, 1951). I would suspect it could be applied to
protect the electronic copy of a work which was not protected.)

The above was largely extracted from Intellectual Property by Miller and
Davis. I am not a lawyer, so my speculations about legal matters should
be regarded as invested with as much nonsense as any others.

(2) --------------------------------------------------------------54----
Date: Wed, 15 Nov 89 08:09:48 CST
From: "Michael S. Hart" <HART@UIUCVME.BITNET>
Subject: Re: 3.725 copyright meditations (188)

The several notes regarding copyright have left out what is perhaps the
most important aspect of copyright, when copyright protection expires,
as well as the point of what actually constitutes a copy. The law is
quite specific in regard to both matters. A work can only be
copyrighted under certain rules, one of which is that the work must
contain the results of an intellectual or artistic effort. Therefore,
no matter how many years how many people spend, or pay others to spend,
creating a copy, per se, does not endow the creators with copyrightable
protection, unless the copy has artistic merit. This can not apply in
the case of typing in a copy. However a certain typesetting in a
certain font, etc. COULD BE copyrighted on the basis of artistic merit
but probably not in the case of using widespread computerized fonts to
copy text already in the public domain. With modern scanners, now no
less inexpensive than an XT-type computer, most books can be scanned in
less than a week - to effectively eliminate the labor value of the
person who typed a book for ten years (I would like to know what book it
was, and was it just copying or was the author actually composing -
which makes it copyrightable on that merit - and how many megabytes did
the finished work take? This is interested to me in the extreme, as I
spent years typing in books for our electronic library, before scanners
came along and reduced the 20 months of labor I spent on one 3.3M book
to about one month, including proofreading).

At any rate, one of the largest issues under discussion is the desire to
get copyright protection for works which are in the public domain and
have been- translated?!? into machine readable texts. Even if such a
work were allowed copyright protection for artistic merit, all one would
have to do to create? a newly copyrightable copy would be to change the
font. There was a similar issue once created in respect to
WordCrucher(TM) in which it was argued that a text prepared with
WordCruncher was protected under WordCruncher's program copyright.
Needless to say, this did not take much effort (though the usual legal
delay) to solve, as this precedent would allow any word processor that
same right to demand a royalty for any file created with it.

Enough for now. I would like to hear why so many are against having
machine readable texts of public domain materials easily and cheaply