Remember that 4th of July post about the US Marine Corps Band’s dubious (albeit inadvertent) chilling of access to public domain material with scary-sounding—and entirely made-up—restrictions? Well as it turns out, the Band isn’t the only piece of the federal government trying to illicitly tack on fake, copyright-esque limits onto public domain works.
Imagine you’re in charge of promoting your community’s 4th of July parade this weekend, and are making a video to spread the word. Naturally you’re looking for patriotic music. You know that Stars and Stripes Forever is old enough to be in the public domain, so all you need is a performance of the song also in the public domain. Fortunately, you’re pretty sure recordings produced by US government bands are in the public domain. But when you visit the US Marine Band’s website, you read otherwise.
“Going to the library was the one place we got to go without asking for permission. And they let us choose what we wanted to read. It was a feeling of having a book be mine entirely.” – Rita Dove. Unfortunately, the Authors Guild, an authors’ advocacy group, does not want library patrons to access books without its permission. The Authors Guild filed a lawsuit against five universities and the HathiTrust last week. Although the reasoning in its complaint is flawed, the Authors Guild successfully prevented access to numerous literary works that were set for digital release.