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Re: Copyright 1900 letter...

Nov 27, 1996 04:41 PM
by Jerry Hejka-Ekins

>> You may copyright email that is your own intellectual
>>property, but unless you are "K.H." or his literary heir, you
>>may not copyright his letter.

>     Quite right, however letters that are reproduced in email
>or magazines are protected by the copyright thereof.  In other
>words a person can't then reproduce the letter unless they find
>it from some other source.  As a general rule when I quote
>extensively from the M's writings I attach a copyright notice.

No.  A letter reproduced in email may be protected by copyright
or it may be in public domain.  It is your responsibility to
determine which.  If it is protected by copyright, it is your
responsibility to find the owner of that copyright.  Whether the
letter is protected by copyright or in public domain, you have no
right to post a notice of copyright upon it.  You have the
following obligations:

1. If you want to reproduce a letter, and have any question as to
whether or not it is protected by copyright, it is your
responsibility to find out.  If it is protected, you must:

A. Get written permission from the owner of the copyright to
reproduce it.

B. Give notice that the letter is copyrighted; state who owns the
copyright, and state that you are reproducing it with permission.

2. If the item is under public domain, you still have an
obligation to cite where you got the letter, but you have no
right to post a notice of copyright of any kind.

>>>If someone wants to use the letter for any reason other than
>>>non-profit goodwill then they can find it from some other
>>>source.  The assumption of the presumption is presumptious.

>> I respect your intent, but you may not claim ownership to
>> something that does not belong to you.  Sorry.

>It is not ownership but source copyright as described above.

Sorry, I don't know what you are talking about.  By "source
copyright," do you mean that you are giving notice that you are
not sure whether the letter was copyrighted, therefore you are
reproducing it without permission; but if the letter was
copyrighted after all, you are hereby giving notice that it might
be protected by copyright; but you are illegally reproducing the
letter anyway, because your motives are honorable?

>>>K.H. is still alive (physically present on our globe) I
>>>believe (perhaps using a different mayavirupa).

> In that case, it is up to "K.H." to claim the copyright.

>>Interestingly I originally found the text of the letter in a
>>public forum on compuserve.  After downloading it and reading
>>it I went back to the forum in order to find who posted it and
>>inquire as to the copyright.  Peculiarly I could not find the
>>posting in a search and so had no one to assign a source
>>copyright to.  Thus, not knowing that it was found in any other
>>place I attached a "goodwill non-profit" clause to it whenever
>>I posted it.

In this case, you had no business reproducing the letter until
you determined its legal status.  You also had no business
attaching a "goodwill non-profit" notice to something that does
not belong to you.  Just, think, if yoy had followed procedures,
you might have received written permission from KH to reproduce
the letter, thereby you would have had you own personal Mahatma
letter :-)

For future reference, see my earlier post concerning the source
of this letter.   I hope this clarifies the issues.

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