International treatment of the public domain

Russell McOrmond russell at
Tue Feb 17 21:44:47 UTC 2004

  Lets continue down this line of thinking... (just trying to understand
the logic people have presented...)

On Tue, 17 Feb 2004 jcowan at wrote:

> Russell McOrmond scripsit:
> >   If NASA has the ability to apply a license in a foreign country to a
> > works that is in the public domain in the USA, then does not any other US
> > citizen have the ability to apply a license as well?  If these other US
> > citizens do not, then does NASA?
> Why, because NASA, through its employees who actually write the works, is
> the author.

  Like other forms of "work for hire", the employer (The United States
Government) would be the copyright holder if there was copyright.  In this
case the employer has released the works into the public domain via

  Like other forms of "work for hire" the employees do not have rights in
the United States or any other country, and would not be considered the
author for the purposes of copyright.

Note: I am not a supporter of the concept of "work for hire" or what is
sometimes called "contractual rights", but that is a political
conversation outside the scope of this list.  I believe that
first-copyright should only exist for natural persons, and that any
transfer of copyright to an employer (natural person or corporation), if
it happens at all, should be negotiated as part of an employment agreement
or other legal document.

> >   Does the concept of there being a "copyright holder" outside of the USA
> > make sense when US legislation says that the US government creator does
> > not receive copyright inside the USA?
> Just as much as the notion that _Steamboat Willie_ has a copyright holder
> in the U.S. but not in Canada.

  You will need to provide a reference here.  Is this a case where an
author died more than 50 years ago (Canadian term for natural persons) but
less than 75 (US term for natural persons).  If this is the case then we
are talking about a copyright term question, not a question when the
potential copyright holder waives copyright and related rights (releases
the work to the public domain).

 Russell McOrmond, Internet Consultant: <> 
 Perspective of a digital copyright reformer on Sheila Copps, MP.
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