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Is it in the Public Domain

Is it in the Public Domain?

Carl Malamud has Standards
For 25 years this man has been fighting to make public information public. Now he's being sued for it. By Steven Levy Sep 12 2016
On August 8, Carl Malamud wakes up early. For the past 25 years or so, Carl Malamud's lonely mission has been to seize on the internet's potential for spreading information — public information that people have a right to see, hear, and read. “Heroes for me are ones who take risks in pursuit of something they think is good,” says Brewster Kahle, founder of the Internet Archive and a frequent collaborator of Malamud's. “He is in that category.” Indeed, Malamud has had remarkable success and true impact. If you have accessed EDGAR, the free Securities and Exchange Commission database of corporate information, you owe a debt to Malamud. Same with the database of patents, or the opinions of the US Court of Appeals. Without Malamud, the contents of the Federal Register might still cost $1,700 instead of nothing. If you have listened to a podcast, note that it was Carl Malamud who pioneered the idea of radio-like content on internet audio — in 1993. And so on. As much as any human being on the planet, this unassuming-looking proprietor of a one-man nonprofit — a bald, diminutive, bespectacled 57-year-old — has understood and exploited the net (and the power of the printed word, as well) for disseminating information for the public good. Even if it gets him in trouble. Even if he does it by picking sometimes arcane, even bizarre, fights. Such a battle is the one he is waging on August 8, 2016. His theater of operations is the American Bar Association's annual meeting, held at the Moscone West convention center in downtown San Francisco. At issue is a resolution that the organization's House of Delegates will consider. It involves regulatory standards. Do not yawn. True, the legality of electronically publishing building codes, plumbing regulations, and product safety rules for baby seats probably won't be the subject matter for Andrew Lloyd Webber's next musical. The lawyers in the American Bar Association's House of Delegates might be excused for thinking that this would be one of the more obscure resolutions they would consider at their annual meeting. But such thinking doesn't take Carl Malamud into account. With an endless supply of energy and a wacky bag of tricks, he has singlehandedly elevated the subject to the most contentious issue of the event, a parliamentary prizefight. If nothing else, Malamud is determined to make the barristers understand that the publication of these standards is a core American value, and allowing anything but totally free and open publication would leave a dark constitutional stain on the shag rug of liberty. Indeed, for Malamud, the right to publish things like the annotated legal code of the state of Georgia and the European Union's rules for infant pacifiers is an existential issue. Since 2007, he has been methodically publishing online—for free—the detailed codes for buildings, product safety, and infrastructure. These are often drawn up by private organizations, usually with the help of federal and industry experts. When legislators incorporate them into the law, they don't take all the text and put it into bills, but essentially annex these codes into the law. The term for this is “incorporated by reference” (IBR). After this happens, they are the law. Malamud believes — and case law overwhelmingly seems to back him up—that no one can claim copyright on them, or limit access to them. Justice Stephen Breyer once remarked, “If a law isn't public, it isn't a law.” (Once Malamud heard this, he commissioned a rubber stamp, and frequently pounds the the quotation in red ink onto documents he produces.)

Can Works In the Public Domain be Re-Copyrighted? Supreme Court Says YES -

Stanford has Copyright Renewal Database
Books published from 1923 to 1963 fall into an interesting period in U.S. copyright history because from 1964 on, copyright renewals were automatic under the 1976 change in the copyright laws. Also, the Copyright Office only put into its online database renewals received after 1977. Building on earlier work by Project Gutenberg Stanford has put online the renewal forms, though only for books. Still, someone might find it useful, and it's free.

Copyright Industry Calls For Broad Search Engine Censorship -- More Censorship

We have the right to whatever is in the Smithsonian - the Nation's Attic. Here is where you get the photographs for free.


Carl Malmud and Marshall T. Rose
have formed a new nonprofit called
Our mission is the creation of public works projects on the net and our initial focus is improving communication between the federal government and people. We've released:

  1. Per Lessig's agreement with CNN, we've uploaded both Presidential Debates to the Internet Archive
  2. Created some images based on the Smithsonian Images site hear the NPR Smithsonian story about it.
  3. Mirror of NTIS.Gov

September 30, 2007
From the README at
This directory contains raw data from the U.S. Copyright Office of the Library of Congress. Related to this directory are two communications, one to the U.S. Copyright Office, the other a response from the Library of Congress, which functions as the commercial agent for the Copyright Office:

While the Copyright Office maintains a record-oriented interface, that does not provide adequate facilities to meet their public access obligations. This directory, accessible via FTP and HTTP, contains 3 sub-directories:

  1. The "code" directory contains PERL code from 2000 which is used to convert MARC-format records into XML.
  2. The "raw" directory contains the bulk database product
    as sold by the Library of Commerce as of the year 2000.
  3. The "hids" directory contains all bulk data from 1978 to the present. The record-oriented interface maintained by the Copyright Office is limited to interactive keyword searches. Their system identifies each record with a unique Hidden ID (HID). This directory thus contains all 21 million of those records sorted in HID order, as well as a per-HID retrieval utility.
    In posting these data, we rely partly on voicemail from the Honorable Marybeth Peters, the U.S. Register of Copyrights received Fri Sep 21 16:17:02 PDT 2007 in response to the above-mentioned letter, in which Ms. Peters states that "I think our records should be available to the public. Certainly there's no copyright in any of the copyright records. Certainly they're public records and they should be openly available."

Government publications are neither copyrighted nor copyrightable.
That includes Web sites. As a general rule, work prepared by the U.S Government is not eligible for copyright. Text of government testimony at committee hearings, speeches by government officials, copies of public laws, the text of court decisions, government information circulars, etc. may not be copyrighted. The rule applies generally to work prepared by U.S. government employees in the scope of their employment (with certain limited exceptions). For example, if government employees prepared abstracts, summaries or headnotes for speeches, court decisions, government publications, etc., those materials would not be copyrightable. The U.S. government has the same rights as private employers when works are prepared by its employees. There are a number of government organizations that publish material. Usually, here is a specific authorizing statute and the material published is not eligible for copyright. Normally, the selling price covers the costs of dissemination, with no provision for profit. OMB sets federal policy with respect to these issues. Circular A-76 and A-25 would be important. The government shouldn't engage in commercial competition. Even stuff developed by contractors (who do have proprietary claims), if delivered to the Government, are at least philosophically in the public domain

When works pass into the Public Domain

or after
When work is fixed in tangible medium of expression
Life + 70 years (1)
(or if work of corporate authorship,
the shorter of 95 years from publication,
or 120 years from creation 2
before 1923
In public domain None
from 1923 - 63
When published with notice3 28 years + could be renewed for 47 years, now extended by 20 years for a total renewal of 67 years. If not so renewed, now in public domain
from 1964 - 77
When published with notice 28 years for first term; now automatic extension of 67 years for second term
Created before
but not published
1-1-78, the effective date of the
1976 Act which eliminated
common law copyright
Life + 70 years
or 12-31-2002, whichever is greater
Created before
but published between then
and 12-31-2002
1-1-78, the effective date of the
1976 Act which eliminated
common law copyright
Life + 70 years
or 12-31-2047 whichever is greater

1 Term of joint works is measured by life of the longest-lived author.

2 Works for hire, anonymous and pseudonymous works also have this term. 17 U.S.C. § 302(c).

3 Under the 1909 Act, works published without notice went into the public domain upon publication. Works published without notice between 1-1-78 and 3-1-89, effective date of the Berne Convention Implementation Act, retained copyright only if, e.g., registration was made within five years. 17 U.S.C. § 405.

Occupy Science: Some frustrated communities have built their own scientific enterprises outside of traditional research settings. Disease advocacy organizations have established biobanks, for example, and firms like 23andMe and PatientsLikeMe have used crowdsourcing methods to build up repositories of genomic and health data, each attracting over 100,000 participants in just a few years. Often labeled "citizen science," these projects offer a two-way connection between participants and research participants contribute their data, while seeing how it is used in research, what findings it generates, and how that new knowledge might impact their own lives.

Firms Out of Business (FOB), an online database containing the names and addresses of copyright holders or contact persons for out-of-business printing and publishing firms, magazines, literary agencies and similar organizations that have archives housed in libraries and archives in North America and the United Kingdom.

Writers, Artists and Their Copyright Holders (WATCH), an online database containing the names and addresses of copyright holders or contact persons for authors and artists. FOB is a companion project to FOB. The objective of both projects is to provide information to scholars and researchers about whom to contact for permission to publish text and images that have copyright protection.