Re: Copyright question...a new one!

Mark Richie (
Tue, 27 Feb 2001 09:16:05 -0800 (PST)

Wow, another great question full of gray areas.

The short opinion is: they are NOT in public domain (Gary, can you cite
Law and/ or Code that says tapes of presidential debates or speeches are
in PD?) and, they MAY, under limited circumstances, be open to making
copies of for academic purposes.

The Long opinion is:
Section 108 (f) allows for the recording and preservation of Daily News
Broadcasts for academic study and single non-systematic reproduction of
a news broadcast for LENDING. News Broadcasts are copyrighted, but this
is an exemption for certain libraries to the right of making copies of
the broadcast. It does not apply to so called "Magazine" format
broadcasts ( see Additional Comments Section of Copyright Law). Further,
Section 108(f) only allows LENDING of the video or film archive and "is
intended to preclude performance, copying, sale . . . by the recipient
of a copy" of the newscast. (quote from added comments section of US
Copyright Law).
The government, per se, does not tape or film debates and speeches of
political figures. It is done by network news organizations(including
League of Women voters sponsored debates), pool cameras in the case of
presidential speeches, state of the union etc. and, in the case of
congressional testimony, under contract to an outside producer. (after I
testified before the House Ways and Means Committee in 1988, I got a
call offering to sell me a video copy of my testimony for $400. I told
them I'd wait for the home video version) But I digress....

So, now you are back to the source of the speeches and debates that the
professor wants to compile. If they are embeded into a video produced
by a video distributor, then they are part of a larger copyrighted work
and are not fair game for copying. (Unless Gary is right and the
original footage is PD to begin with.)
If they are from a recorded newscast made under the provision of
Section 108 (f) and obtained legally under the American TElevision and
Radio Archive Act of 1974, the question arises if you can legally edit
the archived programs to make a compilation (derivative work) even for
lending purposes. Given the above wording in quotes - probably not.

Mark Richie

Patricia O'Donnell wrote:
> Hi Videolibbers.
> I apologize in advance if this has already been addressed . I am wondering
> if any of you can tell me whether Presidential debates, speeches,
> addresses, etc. are considered to be in the Public Domain or are they
> protected?
> I've just fielded an inquiry from a faculty member asking us to make a
> compilation tape of Nixon's Checkers speech, Kennedy/Nixon debates,
> Clinlton's "Lewinsky apology". etc., and I'm not sure if I need to pursue
> license to do so or not.
> Any ideas?
> Regards,
> Patricia O'Donnell , Manager
> OID-Instructional Media Library
> (310) 206-1248