For Approval: NASA Open Source Agreement Version 1.1

jcowan at jcowan at
Fri Feb 13 16:36:04 UTC 2004

Mark W. Alexander scripsit:

> By my reading, Title 17 says that government works are not protected by
> copyright. Period. NASA also notes that they are only under the
> jurisdiction of U.S. federal law. No U.S. law does, or can, subject
> government works to foreign copyright authority.

Well, I'm with you up to the last sentence.  But by acceding to the
Berne Convention, which is part of the supreme law of the land, on all
fours with the Constitution and federal legislation, we do indeed subject
ourselves to foreign copyright authority.

Now a work can uncontroversially be in the public domain in one place
and copyrighted in another:  Australia's on life+50, the U.S. rule is
"everything after 1923" (with the exception of U.S. government works and
a few others).  Thus certain works by Edgar Rice Burroughs, F. Scott
Fitzgerald, Sinclair Lewis, and Margaret Mitchell among many other
Americans are still in copyright in the U.S. but not in Australia.

But all those works were once in Australian copyright.  The question is,
can a work which is born into the public domain in its country of origin
be in copyright anywhere at any time?

The conflict of laws is an ugly and rather primitive subject (my father
wrote an article about it once).

"You know, you haven't stopped talking          John Cowan
since I came here. You must have been 
vaccinated with a phonograph needle."           jcowan at
        --Rufus T. Firefly            
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