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Notice This

Bill Patry posted something recently on the burgeoning problem of overreaching and misleading copyright notices. Quite apart from law reform efforts directed to curing the notice problem, copyright notices present a small but interesting literary genre. There is, of course, the infamous leather-winged demon of the night that protects the innovative folks at Alchemy Mindworks. For the most engaging notice, my money currently rides on this, from “The Culture of the Copy,” by Hillel Schwartz:

No part of this book may be reproduced, replicated, reiterated, duplicated, conduplicated, retyped, transcribed by hand (manuscript or cursive), read aloud and recorded on audio tape, platter or disk, lipsynched, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means, including genetic, chemical, mechanical, optical, xerographic, holographic, electronic, stereophonic, ceramic, acrylic, or telepathic (except for that copying permitted by Sections 107 and 108 of U.S. Copyright Law and except by reviewers for the public press who promise to read the book painstakingly all the way through before writing their reviews) without prior permission from the Publisher.

Can you copyright a copyright notice? I don’t see why not. If you wanted to enforce your rights fully, of course, you would need to register the notice, and provide a copyright notice for the copyright notice. Perhaps Bill Patry is right: The onward march of literature aside, maybe we would all be better off if notices just went away. Otherwise, as the herpetologists might say, it’s turtles all the way down.

3 thoughts on “Notice This”

  1. There’s a very good article somewhere in westlaw on lawyers suing each other for plagiarism of one another’s briefs. But I forget if they actually pressed a copyright claim. Here’s a paradox: perhaps, to the extent the author/owner of the notice is pressing it as a foundation of a legal claim, they are declaring it “law.” And if that is the case, don’t they run into Veeck problems–i.e., you can’t copyright the law?

    Another query–what if Apple put DRM on its iTUnes license agreement that kept you from cutting and pasting it? I really wish someone would try this, because it might get some court to articulate some limits on these practices.

    ahhh, here’s the cite:

    Missouri Law Review

    Spring 2006



    Davida H. Isaacs [FN1]

  2. I can’t beat the winged demon, but the “notice” broadcast during Monday Night Football is ludicrous, and probably does more to convey misimpressions of copyright law to the public than any other single factor: “This telecast is copyrighted by the NFL for the private use of our audience. Any other use of this telecast or of any pictures, descriptions, or accounts of the game without the NFL’s consent is prohibited.”

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