[DECtalk], Re: copyright

  • From: Tony Baechler <tony@xxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: dectalk@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Thu, 30 Dec 2004 00:34:42 -0800

At 02:48 PM 12/29/2004 +0000, you wrote:
>In which case, then, no US citizen is allowed under any circumstance to
>have the Red Dwarf Scripts or associated material in there possession!

Partially correct.  If they buy them from an authorized source like the 
BBC, fine, no problem.  If they download them from someone like you, that's 
a problem.  Also, you're dealing with two different sets of laws.  First 
you have the law on written works, such as books.  Everything published 
after 1922 is under copyright protection and cannot legally be made 
available for download online.  Everything pre-1922 is in the public 
domain.  Look at this site for more about this.


The other set of laws has to do with public performance and sound 
recordings.  I am not clear on the public performance laws but I know that 
all sound recordings after 1972 are under copyright protection.  However, 
it isn't as simple as that.  Pre-1972 recordings might have been renewed 
which means they would still be protected, but not necessarily.  Also you 
have trademark laws.  Trademarks are not the same as copyrights but apply 
as far as distributing something illegally.  Even if a TV show is free of 
copyright, which is highly unlikely, it probably has a trademark on the 
title or characters so couldn't be distributed for that reason.

Again, if a US citizen buys the scripts or the shows from either the 
copyright owner or an authorized agency, no problem.  They would have to 
scan the scripts to read them, and they could not give copies to anyone 
else, but they could legally own them.  Oh, here's one more thing to make 
it more complicated.  The blind, due to an exception in the law, can have 
copies of books in specialized formats which are post-1922.  However, that 
does not apply to dramatic works, so even the blind can't legally download 
scripts because they are considered dramatic works.  This applies to plays, 
radio and TV scripts, etc.  This does not apply to sheet music.

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