Question about public domain works in Google Books with a Harvard library example (UNCLASSIFIED)

Ken Hirsch kenhirsch at FTML.NET
Wed Nov 2 22:20:21 UTC 2011

On Tue, Nov 1, 2011 at 7:42 PM, Victor Steinbok <aardvark66 at>wrote:

> I know he was an engineer and not a lawyer, but he seems to have got the
> government documents issue wrong. Government documents are not in the
> public domain, but they must be made available to the public (not quite
> the same thing, as it turns out). The question is not "who is the author
> and who owns the copyright?" but "Does 'available to the public' include
> reproduction by third parties?". The answer generally seems to be "yes",
> but it's not a clear-cut issue.

For works "prepared by an officer or employee of the U.S.
part of that person's official duties", there is no copyright protection in
the United States. That is a specific part of the copyright statute.

There are court rulings that deal with other government documents, though.

Also, someone else in this conversation said "Grrr" in relation to Disney,
but in that particular case, they were the side arguing for the public
domain. I don't mean to defend them in general, though.

The American Dialect Society -

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