The maps have been resized and restored in different ways.
Thanks for your question. Please note that information provided is not intended to form an attorney-client relationship.
Yes, one can copyright a work that has entered the public domain. However, you will have to weigh several considerations before you determine whether you can do so in your particular case. There are three main considerations:
1. How did you confirm that the work is in the public domain and when did the copyright of the work expire?
Under 17 USC s. 302, authors possess exclusive rights to their works for a limited time only. Works that are published before 1976 have some pretty specific renewal provisions. So, you will want to be sure to investigate those when determining if the 1923 map is still covered by copyright protection. If the work at issue was created on or after January 1978, then the copyright protection of that work will actually extend for the life of the author plus 70 years. Additionally, if the work had joint authors, then the copyright protection lasts 70 years after the life of the last surviving author. Works that are written anonymously or pseudonymously made for hire, are protected by copyright for ninety-five years after first publication or 120 years after creation, whichever comes first. So, double check the kind of work that you have and confirm that copyright has expired.
Effectively, you must determine exactly when the work was created and know precisely whether the statutory protection lapsed. You can contact the Register of Copyrights at the U.S. Copyright Office which is mandated by statute to maintain information pertaining to copyrighted works and to provide that information to the public. This office can conduct free searches for you if you do not want to hire a commercial search company. Information on copyright is also available electronically through Westlaw and LexisNexis.
2. If the work is in the public domain in the U.S. can you be sure the same is true of the work at the international level?
You will want to be especially careful because if the work you are discussing is being circulated outside of the U.S. Just because the work is in the public domain in the U.S., does not mean that it is in the public domain abroad. If the work is being circulated internationally, then the law of each country where the work will be used must be consulted to determine whether the work is subject to protection there. Pursuant to Sect. 104A of the 1976 Copyright Act, there are certain foreign works that enter the public domain in the U.S. because they have failed to comply with copyright formalities, yet the Copyright Office will still “restore” copyright protection when it is a specific type of foreign works. So, determine if the work you would like to copyright has been circulated abroad.
3. Is the work that you seek to copyright actually copyrightable?
If you want to use an idea or concept reflected in a work- yet not the actual written expression of that work, then you may be permitted to copyright this written expression without concern for the copyright of the work. Although (copyright cannot protect ideas) the common law still provides a way to protect against the use of a unique idea under certain circumstances [s. 208 F.3d 368,380]. Moreover, you will want to consider if the idea or concept you want to copy is sufficiently general or abstract to not require copyright protection. Further, you will want to consider if the work is too short or descriptive to be copyrightable. An example is with slogans and titles which are not copyrightable. As such copyright permission is unnecessary, yet other areas of intellectually property law are implicated such as trademark law.
You have mentioned that you have a map and maps are deemed original works of authorship under s. 102(a) of the 1976 Copyright Act as a “pictorial, graphic, and sculptural work.” So, as long as the other elements for a copyrightable work are present, then the map is copyrightable.See question
Our organization would like to add a few excerpts of the original article to our own article reviewing the same event.
Please note that by providing the following advice, Gonzalo Law LLC does not intend to form an attorney-client relationship.
Generally, no. Use of copyrighted information for purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching, scholarship, or research is fair use and does not constitute copyright infringement. In determining whether this fair use exception exists, the following factors are weighed:
(1) the purpose and character of the use, including whether such use is of a commercial nature and how transformative it is;
(2) the nature of the copyrighted work;
(3) the amount of the work used in relation to the copyrighted work as a whole; and
(4) the effect of the use upon the potential market for or value of the copyrighted work.
Examples of fair use of copyrighted work include quoting a few lines from a song for use in a music review or copying a few paragraphs from a news article for use by a teacher or student in a lesson. Accordingly, no permission is required where the use will constitute just a couple of quotes from a published work that is of such a character in which the fair use exception applies and there will not be an impact to the work’s commercial value (as in the example of a news article). This appears to be the case in your situation where you would like to include quotes from a prior article in your current news article for comment and critique. Gonzalo Law LLC encourages you to review carefully the statutes and legal commentaries on which our response is based at the following locations:
* 17 U.S.C. § 107
* What is Fair Use? Commentary and Criticism. http://fairuse.stanford.edu/Copyright_and_Fair_Use_Overview/chapter9/9-a.html#1
You are welcome to contact our office directly for a complete analysis of your legal matter at 216.527.7777 or visit us online at www.gonzalolaw.com.See question
I would create and submit an original recipe.
Great question. However, please note that the following the response is
not intended to form an attorney client relationship rather it is to
provide information to aid you in the process.
Generally no. The only party who may claim copyright protection is the
author of the work, or the author's employer if it was a work made for
hire. Work made for hire is narrowly defined as work either (1)
prepared by an employee within the scope of his/her employment or (2) a
specially-commissioned as a contribution, instructional text, etc., and
the parties expressly agreed, in signed writing, to it being a
work-for-hire. Thus, absent a written and signed agreement, the
copyright claim in the above-situation belongs to the author submitting
the work to a contest.
Maybe. Copyright law does not protect a mere listing of ingredients
commonly found in formulas, recipes, or prescriptions. However, there
may be a basis for copyright protection if the work is accompanied by
substantial and unique creative literary expression, such as
explanations, directions, or illustrations, or for example, if it is an
original collection of recipes assembled in a cookbook.
Please note that this response is based directly on federal statutes and
legal commentary which you can read further in the following
U.S. Copyright Office, Circular 1, Copyright Basics
17 U.S.C. § 102 (2012)
17 U.S.C. § 101 http://www.copyright.gov/fls/fl122.html