Re: NEC Licence (Work of US Gov. Employees)
John Hasler <firstname.lastname@example.org> wrote:
> I don't see any way that the law is about to let you take material
> to which you own no rights, attach a license to it, and enforce that
Ok, I sat down for a couple minutes and looked things up for myself.
The fundamental question is: does this governmental work meet DFSG.
Secondly, 17 USC 103 isn't the right section. Let's start with 17 USC
Sec. 105. Subject matter of copyright: United States Government works
Copyright protection under this title is not available for any work of the
United States Government, but the United States Government is not precluded
from receiving and holding copyrights transferred to it by assignment,
bequest, or otherwise.
In other words, there's no limits on distribution, modification, etc.
In case that's not good enough for you, here's a quote from House
Report No. 94-1476:
Scope of the Prohibition. The basic premise of section 105 of the bill is
the same as that of section 8 of the present law [section 8 of former title
17]--that works produced for the U.S. Government by its officers and
employees should not be subject to copyright. The provision applies the
principle equally to unpublished and published works.
The general prohibition against copyright in section 105 applies to "any
work of the United States Government," which is defined in section 101 as "a
work prepared by an officer or employee of the United States Government as
part of that person's official duties." Under this definition a Government
official or employee would not be prevented from securing copyright in a work
written at that person's own volition and outside his or her duties, even
though the subject matter involves the Government work or professional field
of the official or employee. Although the wording of the definition of "work
of the United States Government" differs somewhat from that of the definition
of "work made for hire," the concepts are intended to be construed in the
A more difficult and far-reaching problem is whether the definition should
be broadened to prohibit copyright in works prepared under U.S. Government
contract or grant. As the bill is written, the Government agency concerned
could determine in each case whether to allow an independent contractor or
grantee, to secure copyright in works prepared in whole or in part with the
use of Government funds. The argument that has been made against allowing
copyright in this situation is that the public should not be required to pay
a "double subsidy," and that it is inconsistent to prohibit copyright in
works by Government employees while permitting private copyrights in a
growing body of works created by persons who are paid with Government funds.
Those arguing in favor of potential copyright protection have stressed the
importance of copyright as an incentive to creation and dissemination in this
situation, and the basically different policy considerations, applicable to
works written by Government employees and those applicable to works prepared
by private organizations with the use of Federal funds.
The bill deliberately avoids making any sort of outright, unqualified
prohibition against copyright in works prepared under Government contract or
grant. There may well be cases where it would be in the public interest to
deny copyright in the writings generated by Government research contracts and
the like; it can be assumed that, where a Government agency commissions a
work for its own use merely as an alternative to having one of its own
employees prepare the work, the right to secure a private copyright would be
withheld. However, there are almost certainly many other cases where the
denial of copyright protection would be unfair or would hamper the production
and publication of important works. Where, under the particular
circumstances, Congress or the agency involved finds that the need to have a
work freely available outweighs the need of the private author to secure
copyright, the problem can be dealt with by specific legislation, agency
regulations, or contractual restrictions.
The prohibition on copyright protection for United States Government works
is not intended to have any effect on protection of these works abroad. Works
of the governments of most other countries are copyrighted. There are no
valid policy reasons for denying such protection to United States Government
works in foreign countries, or for precluding the Government from making
licenses for the use of its works abroad.
The effect of section 105 is intended to place all works of the United
States Government, published or unpublished, in the public domain. This means
that the individual Government official or employee who wrote the work could
not secure copyright in it or restrain its dissemination by the Government or
anyone else, but it also means that, as far as the copyright law is
concerned, the Government could not restrain the employee or official from
disseminating the work if he or she chooses to do so. The use of the term
"work of the United States Government" does not mean that a work falling
within the definition of that term is the property of the U.S. Government.
This house report isn't law, it's talking about the laws that could
be written. [It goes on to talk about specific cases involving the
Post Office, and the National Technical Information Service.. but there
are other laws that apply there.]