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Old March 9, 2008, 11:46 PM
Dien Rice Dien Rice is online now
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Join Date: Aug 2006
Posts: 2,641
Default Copyright and US Federal Government-produced works

Originally Posted by -TW View Post
Are you saying if it's public domain from the guv-mint (or from anywhere) I still have to CHANGE/MODIFY it before selling it? Isn't that the whole point of public domain, that I DON'T have to change it before I can sell it?

If it's public domain, I can 'steal' it exactly as is, yes?

But my original question was, can I steal it and SELL it (too)?
Hi TW,

In general, material produced by the US Federal Government is not copyrighted, but is in the public domain...

Here's some more explicit info...

I quote (from that page)...

3.1.2 Is a U.S. Government work provided copyright protection?

In the United States, U.S. Government works are covered by 17 USC 105.59 "Copyright protection … is not available for any work of the United States Government, but the United States is not precluded from receiving and holding copyrights transferred to it by assignment, bequest, or otherwise." Exceptions are available for certain works of the National Institute for Standards and Technology (NIST) and the U.S. Postal Service. Copyright protection may be available for U.S. Government works outside the United States (see FAQ Section 3.1.6). When a copyrighted work is transferred to the U.S. Government, the Government becomes the copyright owner and the work retains its copyright protection.

So, in general, works created by the US Federal Government is not copyrighted. However, sometimes work can be produced for the Federal Government by a private business under contract - in those circumstances, the business may retain copyright. In such instances, usually (from what I've seen) the copyright is clearly displayed.

If something is in the public domain, yes, you can take it and do what you like with it... That means you don't have to rewrite it. However, anyone else can do the same thing too (of course)...

Some people do like to rewrite it a little, so that they can then add their own copyright to the modified work. Or they may like to write an introduction, a conclusion, or add comments, so they can add their own copyright to these new parts of the work. That just gives them a little extra "protection" from being copied themselves... (Think of the "toll position"!)

I hope that helps...

Note that this is not legal advice - for legal advice, please see a legal advisor...

Best wishes,

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