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RE: Sabo Bill: Measure Calls for Wider Access to Federally Financed Research

I am by no means expert in this area, so I would hesitate to provide
advice to a government employee faced with the situation you describe. The
distinction is, however, part of the copyright law (Section 105), which
states that "copyright protection ... is not available for any work of the
U.S. government..."  The statement in the law is quite brief, so I'm sure
that interpretation and regulation have played a significant role in how
practice has evolved.

>From a strict legal standpoint, my take on it would be that the government
employee doesn't have any "part" of copyright to assign, so it's moot, but
that's a matter for the lawyers to sort out.  As a practical matter, if I
was the government employee in question, my response to the publisher
would be that they'll have to get Ashcroft's signature, because it's not
my copyright to assign.

T. Scott Plutchak
Director, Lister Hill Library of the Health Sciences
University of Alabama at Birmingham

-----Original Message-----
From: David Goodman [mailto:dgoodman@Princeton.EDU]
Sent: Friday, July 04, 2003 11:34 PM
To: liblicense-l@lists.yale.edu
Subject: RE: Sabo Bill: Measure Calls for Wider Access to Federally
Financed Research

At least one publisher insists that for work done where only some of the
authors are government employees doing the work in the course of their
duties, that they assign their part of the copyright to the non-government
author, who must then sign the copyright to the publisher.  How would you
advise one to act when confronted by such a request?

Incidentally, unless I am mistaken, the distinction you rightly emphasize
is a matter of current policy and regulations, not of law.

Dr. David Goodman
Princeton University Library
Palmer School of Library & Information Science, Long Island University