Copyfraud: Poisoning the public domain

@Doug Glass

Yes, you can retype a PD book, print, bind and and sell it. In other words, you have made a new physical copy of the work. Your effort has created value in nice physical copy, and you'd expect me to pay a suitable amount in exchange for it.

But you cannot claim distribution rights over it, since distribution rights are bestowed by copyright and you'd only have copyright if were an original or derivative work. It's neither. You cannot claim ownership of the words. I can therefore buy your book, scan and sell the PDF or my own reprints, or just put them on the Internet for free download.

It's the same in reverse - think of bootleg copies of live music. Just because I put effort into recording, post-processing and presenting it nicely on a CD doesn't change the legal status of the work. It's still owned by the performer, and I cannot sell the CD.

If you think I'm wrong you'll have to show me a source explaining what rights you have gained by making a new physical copy of the work, and how I'm infringing those rights.

"When does derivative-work copyright exist?

For copyright protection to attach to a later, allegedly derivative work, it must display some originality of its own. It cannot be a rote, uncreative variation on the earlier, underlying work. The later work must contain sufficient new expression, over and above that embodied in the earlier work for the later work to satisfy copyright law’s requirement of originality."



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