It’s a little-known fact that the Librarian of Congress has the power to determine if you can “unlock” your mobile phone/PDA in order to change the telephone/ISP service accessible on the device. You might not think a librarian could be that powerful, but it’s the law.
Can you legally resell your second-hand digital files? That’s an unusual question not yet directly answered by the courts.
U.S. copyright law’s first sale doctrine says that a purchaser of a legally made book, a DVD, or other physical object embodying a copyrighted work may legally resell that copy. (You can’t make copies of the work or make a movie of the book you bought, though.)
Is copyright law effective in achieving its intended purpose of incentivizing creativity? Professor Peter DiCola of Northwestern University Law School is the author of an interesting new study, Money from Music: Survey Evidence on Musicians’ Revenue and Lessons About Copyright Incentives.
Professor DiCola once named Sufjan Stevens’ Illinois album as the best album of the prior decade. (http://www.thecontrarianmedia.com/2009/12/8717). Professor Peter DiCola showed perfect judgment in that regard. So I pay attention to his work.
Copyright protects creative expression such as music, books, and computer software. But copyright doesn’t protect everything that’s creative. For example, copyright doesn’t protect short phrases, mere ideas (that’s the job of patents), and “useful articles” (such as automobiles and appliances) no matter how elegant their design may be (with only a couple of exceptions mentioned below). The Copyright Office says:
Can a photograph that becomes linked with history or news be protected from imitation? The First Circuit Appeals says that the answer is “no”. The image of Christian Karl Gerhartsreiter, better known as Clark Rockefeller, with his daughter emerging from a Boston church on Palm Sunday became a famous photograph.
The story of the man who in effect abducted his own daughter in violation of divorce terms was a story made for a Lifetime made-for television movie. When Sony Pictures Television produced the program, “Who Is Clark Rockefeller” it reenacted the scene at the church using the actors in the program.