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Re: Copyright of previous public domain

They cannot sell you what they do not own. I doubt that their license
warrents they own the copyright on all the material. It is much more
likely to warrent that they have the right to distribute it. If it's in
the public domain, they certainly do have that right.

The material may or may not be copyright as it is presently produced.
Whether the mere arrangement of material in a database is or should be a
subject of copyright is a matter of considerable current controversy.
Where I and most librarians stand on this is pretty obvious.

Goodman Research Librarian and
Biological Sciences Bibliographer
Princeton University Library
dgoodman@princeton.edu            609-258-7785


On Wed, 21 Aug 2002, Lofts, Kalletta Kathleen wrote:

> I am currently negotiating with an electronic database vendor who has
> included in their license copyright restrictions on government documents
> that were previous public domain in print form.  The vendor argues that
> all contents of their database are copyrighted, and do not want to delete
> like license clause.  This concerns me because our patrons are used to
> these documented being free from copyright.  But even more distressing -
> this issue brings up a bigger problem of third party copyright
> restrictions of any electronic contents, and whether libraries can fight
> that.
> I would like to know how anyone has handled a similar case, and especially
> if anyone has been able to get electronic content vendors to changes such
> restrictions.  What was the outcome, and how have you handled this sort of
> third party copyright restriction of electronic content?
> Thanks,
> Kalletta Lofts