Book People Archive

NY Public Library charging for use of public domain images -- does anyone else out there care about this issue?



I posted this to the ebook discussion list and got very little response.
Perhaps folks here might be more interested. I'll also forward a followup
message of mine on this subject.

Best wishes.

Richard

Richard Seltzer, seltzer@[redacted] www.samizdat.com
Internet marketing consultant www.samizdat.com/consult.html
Books on CD. Give a life-time of reading. A library for the price of a book,
http://store.yahoo.com/samizdat

----- Original Message -----
From: "richard seltzer" <seltzer@[redacted]>
To: <ebook-community@[redacted]>
Sent: Friday, October 25, 2002 6:34 PM
Subject: NY Public Library charging for use of public domain images -- does
anyone else out there care about this issue?


I believe that the NY Public Library's policy is counter to the intent of
the Copyright Law. I also believe that, left unchallenged, it sets a
dangerous precedent.

Attached is my latest note to them, challenging their policy.

I'd appreciate feedback from those of you who are more knowledgeable about
Copyright Law than I.  Does my description of the issue at hand ring true?
Do any of you care? Can/should anything be done about it?

Best wishes.

Richard

Richard Seltzer, seltzer@[redacted] www.samizdat.com
Internet marketing consultant www.samizdat.com/consult.html
Books on CD. Give a life-time of reading. A library for the price of a book,
http://store.yahoo.com/samizdat
617-469-2269

----- Original Message -----
From: richard seltzer
To: permissions
Sent: Friday, October 25, 2002 7:29 PM
Subject: Re: need clarification regarding "public domain" status of your
images


Dear Mr. Lisanti,

*Taking a closer look, I have to question this point:

2.) The Library's counsel has conferred with attorneys specializing in
intellectual property regarding its use fee policy.  As the physical rights
holder of public domain and copyrighted material, the Library has every
legal right to charge user or access fees to patrons who use material from
the Library's collections.  The Library does not charge a fee for personal,
scholarship or research purposes however once someone wants to take an
image from the Library's collections to publish, broadcast, exhibit, put on
a web site or CD-ROM, etc., they must apply for permission and pay use
fees, which help offset the costs of acquiring,cataloging and preserving
the materials of The New York Public Library.

*Yes, of course, you can charge for use of the physical product that you
own.
But your ownership of a physical copy of an image gives you no intellectual
property rights
to that image.

*For instance, the owner of a letter written by Faulkner has no intellectual
property rights to the
content of that letter, and could not publish the contents without
permission of the author or his/her heirs/assignees.
Likewise, the person who buys a painting does not thereby buy the
intellectual property rights to that painting (unless
such terms as explicitly stated). Rather the artists retains those rights.

*In the case of images published in the US before 1923, the image itself is
in the public domain, regardless of who may happen to
own physical copies.

*Also the courts have ruled that simply manipulating text or images by
mechanical means does not give you the right to
claim copryight in the derivative work that results. In other words, simply
scanning a book or a photo does not give you intellectual property rights in
the resulting file.

*I believe you should have another discussion with your lawyers.

*Thanks again for taking my questions seriously. I believe that there are
many others who will have similar questions. And it would be good to get
them resolved clearly and in accord with the spirit of the Copyright Law.
(What you are doing could set a very dangerous precedent.)

Best wishes.

Richard

Richard Seltzer, seltzer@[redacted] www.samizdat.com
Internet marketing consultant www.samizdat.com/consult.html
Books on CD. Give a life-time of reading. A library for the price of a book,
http://store.yahoo.com/samizdat
617-469-2269