[Fwd: [sword-devel] FACTS]

Chris Little sword-devel@crosswire.org
Mon, 6 Jan 2003 20:50:14 -0700 (MST)

On Mon, 6 Jan 2003, Keith Ralston wrote:

> > Both of these guys seem to think they get a copyright for being first to
> > put these PD works into electronic form.
> I'm not sure, but I believe this works like translations of pd works.  The
> _translation_ is copyrightable.  Of course, you have to include the
> copyright notice in your work.

Copyright is granted for creative works (for the purpose of encouraging 
the production of additional creative works).

Translations are copyrighted because they are creative works, requiring 
lots of right-hemispheric cognitive work.

Electronic editions of PD works are still PD.  Changing the format like
this does not require creativity, just good OCR or untiring fingers.  
Adding markup is likewise not creative if it approximates that of the 
original.  Essentially the only way to make a PD work copyrightable by 
making an electronic edition is to make changes to it that are creative 
(i.e. to make a bad copy).  In that situation, only the additions are 
copyrighted and the underlying text remains PD (and may be retrieved by 
rolling back alterations).

This is similar to works in a collection.  If you collect a bunch of PD 
texts and put them in a collection (in print, on CD, or whatever) you do 
get a copyright for the collection--after all it took some creativity to 
decide which texts should be included and how to order them.  However, the 
texts themselves remain PD.

For more info from the source, I would recommend reading through the US 
Copyright Office circular 14, regarding derivative works, which is 
available online at http://www.copyright.gov/circs/circ14.pdf .