[APG Public List] RE: Copyright question

Ray Beere Johnson II raybeere at yahoo.com
Wed Nov 25 15:18:55 MST 2009

--- On Wed, 11/25/09, Pat Asher <pjroots at att.net> wrote:

> Under what conditions/circumstances could a true copy be a
> "creative" work, eligible for copyright protection residing
> with the copier?

     Again, I am not a lawyer. But museums have successfully copyrighted _reproductions_ of works which they own, even those created centuries ago. Those are also true copies. What are the differences between that example and this situation? Perhaps an IP lawyer could tell you - I can't and neither can anyone else who doesn't understand every nuance of the law. (This postcard is a collectible item: the stamp, cancellation, and handwriting make it unique, and the image was created by the present owner. That is a pretty close parallel to the situation of a museum.)
     That does _not_ mean this image could be copyrighted. I have no idea if it could. It _does_ mean, first, that only an IP lawyer could say for certain. Second, even if you consulted an IP lawyer who told you it could not be copyrighted, that would not prevent someone filing a lawsuit, which you might then be forced to defend against.
     Again, this is my opinion. I'd rather stick to situations where I was very sure I was safe. Others may disagree. My own advice is that, unless you are dealing with something which is - beyond any _possible_ doubt - in the public domain, to avoid using anyone else's words, image, or anything else. Many publishers follow a similar principle: even if they are assured by their legal departments that they would ultimately prevail if sued, they will not use anything which might _get_ them sued. The fact that, every now and then, the outcome of a lawsuit surprises even the lawyers may have something to do with that.
                           Ray Beere Johnson II


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