First Statement, Feb. 26, 2006; revised April 6, 2006, Feb. 13, 2007
It is my belief that many, many people and organizations are continuously making false and fraudulent claims of copyright on intellectual property which is either (1) subject to prior copyright by another person or organization, or (2) already in the Public Domain.
Perhaps the most common such false and fraudulent claims, in my opinion, occur when the corporate media routinely claim copyright on everything they print or broadcast, and when Internet websites routinely claim copyright on everything on the website, even when some of the content is clearly in the Public Domain or clearly subject to prior copyright by someone else.
And of course there is always the natural tendency of copyright owners to push the limits of what they claim as their own.
Now, it is totally understandable why all of these people and organizations desire to make such broad and sweeping copyright claims: because they want to include every bit of material on which they have a legitimate claim of copyright. So they just say, "We claim copyright on everything here," and thereby cover that portion of the total content on which they do have a legitimate claim. This practice seems to be very efficient and desirable, from their point of view.
"Efficient and desirable," perhaps, but illegal as I read the Law.
(c) Fraudulent Copyright Notice. - Any person who, with fraudulent intent, places on any article a notice of copyright or words of the same purport that such person knows to be false, or who, with fraudulent intent, publicly distributes or imports for public distribution any article bearing such notice or words that such person knows to be false, shall be fined not more than $2,500.Source: United States Code 17-506(c), as shown at http://caselaw.lp.findlaw.com/casecode/uscodes/ 17/chapters/5/sections/section%5F506.html
"Fraud" is usually defined as, "A deception deliberately practiced in order to secure unfair or unlawful gain," or something like that.(Source: http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&q=fraud+definition&btnG=Google+Search
The "fraudulent intent" is that they deliberately intend to deprive other people of their rights to use this Public Domain material, with the effect of gaining and maintaining illegal control over this material.
The "unfair or unlawful gain" is that they claim the right to impose license fees on intellectual property which they do not own.
In my opinion, the fraud could be eliminated by simply adding the following words to the copyright notice: "Portions may be subject to prior copyright or may be in the Public Domain."
There may very well be several different kinds of damage to me (and other people) caused by such false claims of copyright. But the kind of damage I am most interested in correcting is the damage caused to me by being deprived of my "free use" of material which is already in the Public Domain.
On my websites, everything I write for the Internet is Public Domain, and I try to minimize the amount of copyrighted material, even where specific permission has been granted to me (as in the case of the RSV and N.A.S.B. Bibles.) I prefer Public Domain in everything; and in particular I desire to have several of the Martin Luther King speeches on my websites as Public Domain, but the King heirs are claiming copyright on them.
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Our Copyright Pages
Please see all of our copyright-related pages . . .Blessings to you. May God help us all.Public Domain
Project For The Public Domain
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Facts Are Not Copyrightable
Copyright Law Does Not Cover Photographs Which Merely Copy Visual Works In The Public Domain
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False And Fraudulent Claims Of Copyright
Rev. Bill McGinnis, Director -
GOD'S ONE LAW FOR ALL MANKIND:
"Love All People As Yourself."
"Treat Others As You Would Like To Be Treated."
GOD'S ONE LAW FOR ALL MANKIND: "Love All People As Yourself."