[Jandek] Clarifying the Copyright Thing

Flcon18Fan flcon18fan at aol.com
Sat Feb 24 09:14:19 PST 2007

I'm getting late into this but a note or other correspondence from Mr. Smith or anyone else is not a "Work" protected by any copyright law. A "Work" is clearly defined under the copyright laws and is not the simple product of conversation or correspondence. However if someone were to write you a letter and enclose a short story etc. That part would be protected. Its the same idea as if you were to encounter a star on the street and ask questions with a tape recorder running. The resulting tape would be yours to  do with as you please. If you were to tape a star performing at a concert or a poet performing "Works" then you could not.

In a message dated 02/24/07 10:31:21 Eastern Standard Time, djobe at uark.edu writes:

> Ah, come on guys.  You know better, or you really ought to. 
> "a letter is not actually a copyrighted statement, and in fact can 
> said to 
> be "owned" by its recipient. So it's on the recipient's shoulders." 
> Sorry, but no, what you stated there is totally incorrect. 

More that the way I said it was totally incorrect, and I should have clarified. What I should have said is that the FACTS of the letter are NOT copyrighted. Copyright law exists mostly for things which have commercial value, though it can be said that posting a letter as sent or using the wording exactly as sent is a violation. That said, unless the letter could be said to commercially de-value the creative works of an artist (a curious idea concerning Corwood) the chances are good that no monetary award would be given in a civil suit. 

And again, paraphrasing facts is totally within the law. If someone wishes to take the content of a letter (and, again, I want to note that I'm NOT advocating this AT ALL) and re-phrase it that is absolutely in the recipient's rights. It can be rude as hell, depending on the nature of the letter, but not illegal. Scanning the letter and posting it (or even duplicating the words of the letter exactly) is illegal, but since copyright dispute is a civil court issue, it's doubtful that a suit would bear weight unless the postee stood to gain monetarily from said posting, or, again, if the posting could be said to devalue copyrighted works . Most likely, a person would sue over the posting of letter content for slander, although again said person would have to convince a judge and jury that said person was a victim of public humiliation. 

In short: If Corwood says they used a fretless bass on a recording and someone notes this to the list that's fine (legally, at least, though from what I know Corwood doesn't seem to mind when this sort of info is shared). If someone posts the exact wording of the letter from Corwood, that could be considered a copyright violation, but would only hold water if a court would consider that to devalue the original work or demean the artist. Now if someone posted an mp3 of a song off an album in order to demonstrate the use of said bass, that constitutes a serious copyright violation and an easy lawsuit because you're using the specific artistic work without permission. 

We now return you to complete anticipation of the Richmond, Austin and Manhattan shows. 


>  A letter absolutely is a copyright protected from the moment the 
> pen hits 
> the page.  It is NOT on the recipients shoulders whether to publish 
> it.  The 
> recipient has zero legal right to publish a letter from someone 
> else without 
> permission, and is breaking the law if they do so. 
> If you don't believe me, look up the law for yourself; I'll make it 
> easy for 
> you to do so: 
> http://www.copyright.gov/title17/92chap2.html 
> 202. Ownership of copyright as distinct from ownership of material 
> object 
> Ownership of a copyright, or of any of the exclusive rights under a 
> copyright, is distinct from ownership of any material object in 
> which the 
> work is embodied. Transfer of ownership of any material object, 
> includingthe copy or phonorecord in which the work is first fixed, 
> does not of itself 
> convey any rights in the copyrighted work embodied in the object; 
> nor, in 
> the absence of an agreement, does transfer of ownership of a 
> copyright or of 
> any exclusive rights under a copyright convey property rights in any 
> material object. 
> As I mentioned the respect issue is separate, that is more of a 
> personalethical question, to which I personally believe the answer 
> there supports 
> the legal answer. 
> As for the "poor man's copyright" someone mentioned, that is again 
> not quite 
> spot on.  A work is copyrighted from the instant you create it.   
> You do not 
> have to register it in any way for copyright to exist.  The poor mans 
> copyright refers to how one registers a copyright.  The only way to 
> officially register it in the US is to mail it in with the proper 
> forms and 
> fees to the US copyright office.  Poor mans copyright refers to the 
> ideasome people have that they can mail a work or document to 
> themselves and 
> thus provide some evidence that they created it and when they did, 
> and of 
> course the US copyright office wants to discourage you from doing 
> that for a 
> lot of good reasons.  But the work is copyrighted whether it is 
> registeredor not, or even if it is incorrectly registered. 
> http://www.copyright.gov/title17/92chap4.html#408 
> 408. Copyright registration in 
> general8<http://www.copyright.gov/title17/92chap4.html#4-8> 
> (a) Registration Permissive. — At any time during the subsistence 
> of the 
> first term of copyright in any published or unpublished work in 
> which the 
> copyright was secured before January 1, 1978, and during the 
> subsistence of 
> any copyright secured on or after that date, the owner of copyright 
> or of 
> any exclusive right in the work may obtain registration of the 
> copyrightclaim by delivering to the Copyright Office the deposit 
> specified by this 
> section, together with the application and fee specified by sections 
> 409<http://www.copyright.gov/title17/92chap4.html#409>and 
> 708. <http://www.copyright.gov/title17/92chap7.html#708> Such 
> registrationis not a condition of copyright protection. 
> Again, all of this is not to say that the correspondence can never be 
> published.  It is all just to say that it is Corwood's decision as 
> to if and 
> when that correspondence is published, even if they sent it to other 
> people.  (Unless you are talking about some time in the future when 
> thecopyright has expired, which is likely to be at least the 22nd 
> century.) 
> It could be all public domain, right now, but only if Corwood chose 
> to make 
> it so.  I haven't seen anything suggesting that has taken place, so 
> in the 
> absence of any permission, people really shouldn't be posting bits 
> of their 
> correspondence here or elsewhere on the internet.  I personally 
> think it's 
> disrespectful, but that is besides the point, it is actually illegal. 
> Art C. 
> P.S. Lauren, again I agree it has nothing to do with the veil of 
> secrecy or 
> anything.  This protection applies when you or I or Grandma Smith 
> writes a 
> letter too, it really has nothing to do with Jandek per se. 
> I also have to object to the distinction you draw between 
> "letters" and 
> "notes."  There is no such distinction in copyright law.  Brief 
> notes are 
> equally protected as correspondence.  I'm glad you feel it wise not 
> to share 
> things out of courtesy, but you should extend that courtesy to 
> everythingyou recieve from anyone, even if it's brief, and keep in 
> mind that not just 
> your courtesy, but awareness of people's rights is a factor to 
> consider. 

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