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Government Privacy United States

White House Claims Copyright On Flickr Photos 169

Posted by kdawson
from the toddler's-creed dept.
Hugh Pickens writes "US government policy is that photos produced by federal employees as part of their job responsibilities are not subject to copyright in the US. But Kathy Gill writes that after originally putting official White House photos in the public domain, since January the Obama White House has been asserting that no one but 'news organizations' can use its Flickr photos taken by the official White House photographer, who is a US government employee. This change appears to be a heavy-handed response to last month's controversy resulting from a billboard that implied the President endorsed The Weatherproof Garment Co. after the company used an AP photo of the president for a Times Square billboard. However a New York law already protects individuals from unauthorized use of their image for advertising, and the billboard was quickly taken down. Gill writes, 'Whatever the reason, the assertion of these "rights" seems to be in direct contrast to official government policy and is certainly in direct contrast to reasonable expectations by the public, given that the photos are being produced with taxpayer (i.e., public) money. Ironically, the same Flickr page that claims (almost exclusive) copyright also links to the US copyright policy statement.'"
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White House Claims Copyright On Flickr Photos

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  • by rolfwind (528248) on Sunday February 07, 2010 @05:43PM (#31055114)

    Also, how do you define "news organizations"?

    Trying to define them seems like an infringement of Freedom of the Press.

    • anything that is part of news corp

      • There are always several laws, frequently very contradictory, everywhere. The long-written "offcial" law, is supposed to be universally accepted, but isn't. There is acceptance and interpretation of it, first. Then the cultural customs, the political momentum, religious laws, individual morality, social morality, community rules, family rules, secret rules, business rules, contracts, all of which usually conflict in dozens of ways. The wise citizen knows which law to follow in each situation, and more im
        • by cmiller173 (641510) on Sunday February 07, 2010 @07:11PM (#31055916)

          Title 17 chapter 1 Section 105 of the US code :

          105. Subject matter of copyright: United States Government works

          Copyright protection under this title is not available for any work of the United States Government, but the United States Government is not precluded from receiving and holding copyrights transferred to it by assignment, bequest, or otherwise.

          If this is an independent photographer that has transferred the rights to the photos to the government then yes there could be copyright protection, if the photographer is an employee of the government then these pic should be public domain.

          I believe the White House photographer is in fact an employee of the government so there should be absolutely no copyright claim here.

          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by sassy_webgrrl (111403)

            It is not an independent photographer, as the seeded article documents.

            And this is boilerplate on all photos from the White House, even those that were licensed as public domain in May 2009. IOW, the boilerplate has been made retroactive.

            Kathy (the author of the seeded post)

          • Work for hire (Score:5, Interesting)

            by SuperBanana (662181) on Sunday February 07, 2010 @09:36PM (#31056826)

            If this is an independent photographer that has transferred the rights to the photos to the government then yes there could be copyright protection, if the photographer is an employee of the government then these pic should be public domain.

            Please google "photographer work for hire."

            The photographer does not retain ANY copyright over work done as part of employment. If it's contract work, it is unlikely that a government agency would agree to give the photographer copyright over the photos- I'm sure there's a mile-long line of photographers happy to work with the Whitehouse.

            • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

              But how can his/her children inherent the photographers legacy! Are you trying to tell me that long term copyrights doesn't look after the artist to the fifth generation. Lies is must be lies I tell you.
          • by iccaros (811041) on Monday February 08, 2010 @12:49AM (#31058038) Homepage
            White House photographer is a Government employee as they are military.. See WHCA http://www.disa.mil/whca/ [disa.mil] Spent a good number of years at that command. President Clinton tried the same thing to hide Al Gores fund raising, with illegal use of WHCA to film and photograph.
        • by Brian Gordon (987471) on Sunday February 07, 2010 @07:13PM (#31055936)

          Nice try, but no. What this actually means is that the copyright notice on the flickr page is a mistake and it holds no power. Anyone sued for violating its copyright can yawn in the direction of USC 17.1105 [copyright.gov] and walk out of the courtroom.

          • by Jurily (900488) <jurily.gmail@com> on Sunday February 07, 2010 @08:36PM (#31056434)

            Anyone sued for violating its copyright can yawn in the direction of USC 17.1105 and walk out of the courtroom.

            Except when copyright claims are invoked with DMCA takedown notices. There is no checking of actual legal status before it gets taken down. Especially if the sender is the US government.

          • "I copy mp3 music" (Score:5, Insightful)

            by h00manist (800926) on Sunday February 07, 2010 @09:21PM (#31056718) Journal
            Yup, official law allows that, too. Someone in the White House could have used a dozen laws to stop use of presidential "endorsements" in ads, but somehow the first that came to their mind was copyright. Legal and strategic mistake, it won't work. Shows something though. A generally accepted social tendency for abuse of copyright powers, for protection in general in all kinds of issues. A certain large burger chain also uses "unathorized copyright use" to shut up people. The law is actually on the side of allowing these and many more uses, but the legal and business environment at the moment says otherwise. Businesses can abuse the law, copyright holders have infinite powers, that is the social-moral "law" of the moment. It influences interpretation of the actual law, modifying application of the law, modifying public behavior, and so IP owners get away with it. Ask thousands of people to join a protest with shirts saying "I copy mp3 music", and they will be afraid, thinking someone somehow will investigate, sue or arrest them. There is nothing illegal on the shirt, but it's going against the current political-business-legal-moral rules-climate.
            • by h00manist (800926)
              So, just to make it clear I'm playing the devil's advocate there, I really think we should make shirts saying "I am a Pirate", and "I copy mp3 music", and explain the legal and historical precedents of the Corsicans and of intellectual property, such as in http://www.stealthisfilm.com/ [stealthisfilm.com]
            • by bws111 (1216812)
              I just looked at the flickr page, and there is no mention of the word 'copyright' anywhere. All it says is that using the images in a way that implies endorsement by the president is prohibited. The photos don't contain any copyright notices. The only ones claiming they are asserting copyright are the anti-copyright crowd.
    • by Mrs. Grundy (680212) on Sunday February 07, 2010 @06:55PM (#31055776) Homepage

      If you look at the actual statement on their Flickr page (http://www.flickr.com/people/whitehouse/) you will see that they aren't making a copyright claim. They state why the photos have been uploaded (for news purposes—purposely vague I imagine) and then go on to indicate that certain uses are prohibited—basically commercial use. There are more reasons that copyright to prohibit commercial use. Appropriating a person's likeness for advertising, promotion, etc. for example is not a copyright issue, but instead comes from privacy torts. There is no reason to believe that if the White House wanted to go after someone for using an image inappropriately that they would use copyright infringement as the basis for their case. The original article misread the language and assumed the White House was claiming copyright ownership.

      • by tftp (111690) on Sunday February 07, 2010 @08:03PM (#31056262) Homepage

        They [...] go on to indicate that certain uses are prohibited

        Don't they need an authority (like being a copyright holder) to issue licenses like that?

      • by sassy_webgrrl (111403) on Sunday February 07, 2010 @10:17PM (#31057058)

        The actual language is an assertion of copyright and is in violation of the public domain notice that is also linked.

        This official White House photograph is being made available only for publication by news organizations and/or for personal use printing by the subject(s) of the photograph. The photograph may not be manipulated in any way and may not be used in commercial or political materials, advertisements, emails, products, promotions that in any way suggests approval or endorsement of the President, the First Family, or the White House.

        Moreover, the issue of using a photo of person's likeness to imply an endorsement is NOT a copyright issue. As I noted in the referenced article (doesn't anyone /read/ the links anymore?) better language might be:

        A reminder that photographs may not be used in any manner that suggests approval or endorsement of the President, the First Family, or the White House, whether the endorsement is commercial or political in nature.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by sassy_webgrrl (111403)

        Mark, I just looked at the site you've linked from your Slashdot profile: http://www.photo-mark.com/

        Based on this link, you appear to be a photographer (unless someone is trying to impersonate you, and in that case I'm not talking to "Mark"), so I'm puzzled about your characterization of the Flickr copyright assertion made by the White House. It is true that the statement does not use the word "copyright." However, it is also true that declaring that a public domain photo can only be used by news organizati

        • by Mrs. Grundy (680212) on Monday February 08, 2010 @12:51AM (#31058044) Homepage

          Kathy, I am a photographer and I am very familiar with copyright. I have also done a lot of work under federal contracts so I'm familiar with copyright in that context as well.

          Your post has a headline, "White House Makes Full Copyright Claim on Photos." This is very simply untrue. Think of the ways people assert copyright: using the © copyright symbol, registering works with the copyright office, filing an infringement suit, etc.. I don't mean to say you need to do this to have a copyright, but to say that the White House is making a claim to copyright without doing any of the things we normally do to claim copyright things is misleading at best.

          Claiming that works like the ones on Flickr cannot be used for commercial purposes is not claiming a right, but rather stating a fact. The statement is unnecessary, but it seems the White House decided it would be a good idea to remind people of the facts in light of recent events.

          The only part that is a little baffling is the statement that the images may not be modified. It's also strange that this is not on the http://www.flickr.com/people/whitehouse [flickr.com] page but only under individual images. I'm not sure what they are basing this on, but is certainly does not constitute a "Full Copyright Claim." It seems that the headline and article is written, not to illuminate or inform, but rather to garner attention and be provocative regardless of the facts.

          • by Nikker (749551)
            Mod parent up
          • by h00manist (800926)

            It seems that the headline and article is written, not to illuminate or inform, but rather to garner attention and be provocative regardless of the facts.

            That's most often how news is made - pointless recent events, with lots of drama added. Say something relevant and of consequence, and the newspaper has to take a stand or have trouble with someone who doesn't want it published. Say it without drama, and the public won't care about it.

          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by yincrash (854885)
            If I white out all likeness of people (let's say with large black rectangles for sake of argument) in the photos. Would I be able to use it for commercial purposes like put it in my movie? That would violate both the assertion that the photos are not allowed to manipulated as well as the assertion that it could not be used for commercial purposes, but as far as I can tell should be perfectly lawful.
      • by ShakaUVM (157947)

        >>They state why the photos have been uploaded (for news purposes--purposely vague I imagine) and then go on to indicate that certain uses are prohibited--basically commercial use.

        Which they can't do, because the photos are in the public domain. They have no ability to manage the rights on them at all.

        • Which they can't do, because the photos are in the public domain. They have no ability to manage the rights on them at all.

          If I find a public-domain photograph of you, photoshop it to show you using my product and then run an ad campaign using your name and likeness to promote my product, you know what? You'd get to own my ass in court, because copyright and likeness rights aren't the same thing. And, really, that's what this whole thing is apparently about: people are seeing "public domain" and thinking

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by ShakaUVM (157947)

            >>because copyright and likeness rights aren't the same thing.

            Right, I'm not disagreeing with you on this. But likeness rights don't magically give you copyright rights on a work. If they say "no commercial use" on a photo, that is a copyright restriction, which they can't do because it is in the public domain. The likeness issue is tangential to this. There are commercial ways of using a photograph that don't imply endorsement. In fact, almost all of them do not.

          • by AndersOSU (873247)

            An interesting illustration of this case is Buzz Aldrin suing Bacardi over using a photo of him on the moon taken by Neil Armstrong on a rum bottle label. You're not likely to find a clearer case of a work by a government employee as part of their official duties. Anyway, Aldrin is a recovering alcoholic and was none too pleased that a liquor company was using his likeness to promote alcohol.

            Bacardi settled, and while this may not have included an admission of guilt, suffice it to say if they could have g

    • Also, how do you define "news organizations"?

      I don't see them as trying to define news organizations. The issue seems to be commercial use of the photos for product endorsement and that's what they're trying to curtail.

      There was a time no company would disrespect the office of the president like that so I doubt it was even considered when the image use guidelines were established.

    • by MacWiz (665750)

      Also, how do you define "news organizations"?

      No offense, but forget that -- how do you define "copyright bullshit"?

      This is what happens when the RIAA takes over the DOJ.

      U.S. Code -- Title 17, 105. Subject matter of copyright: United States Government works

      Copyright protection under this title is not available for any work of the United States Government, but the United States Government is not precluded from receiving and holding copyrights transferred to it by assignment, bequest, or otherwise.

  • by John Hasler (414242) on Sunday February 07, 2010 @05:44PM (#31055122) Homepage

    > ...in direct contrast to official government policy...

    In direct contrast to law.

  • by dmomo (256005) on Sunday February 07, 2010 @05:46PM (#31055174) Homepage

    Hi. I (a US Citizen) am the owner of these copyrights. As being a such, I hereby grant permission for anyone to use this material freely.

    Snark Snark.

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by maxume (22995)

      You never did get me that tank, so I'm not sure I believe you this time.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by graft (556969)
      Actually, this is not true. The material the US government produces is not copyrighted, it is in the public domain (domestically, anyway). This means there is NO copyright holder and therefore no possibility of any license agreement with them.
      • by sorak (246725)

        Actually, this is not true. The material the US government produces is not copyrighted, it is in the public domain (domestically, anyway). This means there is NO copyright holder and therefore no possibility of any license agreement with them.

        So how's Disney going to screw THIS up for us?

        • Actually, this is not true. The material the US government produces is not copyrighted, it is in the public domain (domestically, anyway). This means there is NO copyright holder and therefore no possibility of any license agreement with them.

          So how's Disney going to screw THIS up for us?

          For the time being, the US government is not a wholly owned subsidiary of Disney. So, for now, Disney doesn't care. I suppose they plan to cross that bridge when they come to it...

  • Copyright, yes.. (Score:3, Interesting)

    by nurb432 (527695) on Sunday February 07, 2010 @05:48PM (#31055198) Homepage Journal

    But restrictions, no.

    Assuming the judges aren't paid off ahead of time, the first suit will have this nonsense struck down.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by arogier (1250960) *
      I doubt it will have to see a judge. Some staffer will make an apology and maybe get canned, then some underling's slip up turns into a talking point.
  • Hah. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by headkase (533448) on Sunday February 07, 2010 @05:50PM (#31055210)
    It's not about and never will be about copyright when it comes to government works. It's about control. Bend over Citizen, here come your tax dollars.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by headkase (533448)
      See, moderation is about control too ;) =D
  • It would seem... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by lag10 (667114) on Sunday February 07, 2010 @05:51PM (#31055216)

    That the Federal Government is overstepping its authority with these images.

    To my knowledge, the Feds are only allowed to restrict image use based on its classified status. That is, if it is a matter of national security or not.

    Since the Feds are not restricting these images due to security issues, they really don't have a leg to stand on.

    You know things are in a sad state of being when even the government disregards the rules of copyright.

    • by click2005 (921437) *

      To my knowledge, the Feds are only allowed to restrict image use based on its classified status.

      I thought use of the presidential seal was restricted. I've not seen the photos so I dont know if they
      have it or not.

      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by lag10 (667114)

        To my knowledge, the Feds are only allowed to restrict image use based on its classified status.

        I thought use of the presidential seal was restricted. I've not seen the photos so I dont know if they
        have it or not.

        I believe that the Seal has a special status to avoid misrepresentation of official statements.

        These images, on the other hand, are not currently involved with any sort of misrepresentation.

        I also believe that the protection of the Seal is inherited from similar protection given to the British Royal Standard.

      • by RobVB (1566105)

        I thought use of the presidential seal was restricted. I've not seen the photos so I dont know if they have it or not.

        Most of them do not. [flickr.com]

      • What about the seal of the Office of the President Elect?
      • by honkycat (249849)

        I thought use of the presidential seal was restricted.

        Common misconception. There is actually no presidential seal; it was replaced by a sea lion in 1963.

    • by Eil (82413)

      It bugs me that I can't find it right now, but I'm certain there's a federal law prohibiting businesses from using the President's image or likeness either as an explicit or implied endorsement. So, not only does the law differ from what his administration is trying to claim, there's already a law to deal with the abuse that they're trying to curb.

      I like Obama and I voted for him, but every single time I turn around, it looks like his administration is still trying to pound in nails in with a screwdriver.

      • I like Obama and I voted for him, but every single time I turn around, it looks like his administration is still trying to pound in nails in with a screwdriver.

        I don't understand this analogy. I use screwdrivers with sturdy handles to tap in small nails all the time, or to get larger ones started.

        I might have a car one however, it looks like the administration is trying to move semi trailers with sedans.

        • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

          by Anonymous Coward

          I like Obama and I voted for him, but every single time I turn around, it looks like his administration is still trying to pound in nails in with a screwdriver.

          I don't understand this analogy. I use screwdrivers with sturdy handles to tap in small nails all the time, or to get larger ones started.

          Okay, how about this one: Every single time I turn around, it looks like his administration is still trying to screw you with a hammer.

    • That the Federal Government is overstepping its authority with these images.

      To my knowledge, the Feds are only allowed to restrict image use based on its classified status. That is, if it is a matter of national security or not.

      As a side note, I think "national security" secrecy is itself very often a way of covering stuff up that people don't want in public view for other reasons. Sometimes one reads of multi-million dollar scandals involving defense agencies squandering money. As if the money is even a drop in the bucket. It seems that most people have no idea what goes on.

    • by Nikker (749551)
      The issues cited in TFA are from here [cnn.com] and here [nytimes.com], both refer to a company licensing a shot of Obama while in China to create a billboard in Times Square selling a jacket identical to the one he had on at the time of the picture. The company in question referred to their product as "The Obama Jacket" on their website under the picture mentioned above. No where in either articles did they mention Copyright but the NY Times mentions the company in question bought the license for the photograph from them statin
  • by syousef (465911) on Sunday February 07, 2010 @06:03PM (#31055326) Journal

    I had nothing to do with creating them but since the law seems secondary and everyone is going crazy and trying to claim they own every image, I think I'd like to lay claim to a few photos I like. I want to start with all the Hubble Images. Actually make that all astro photos. I like them. I should own them. I'd also like to lay claim to all images of sunsets and sunrises. They are cool. Oh and the grand canyon. I've always wanted to visit but never gotten there so this is the next best thing. Which brings me to all images in Yosemite and Yellow Stone. Oh and all nature photos. Well all the good ones. Closer to home I'd like to claim all images of the Sydney Harbour Bridge and Opera House. (They can keep the images of Sydney Tower - they're ugly). Of course I have no basis in law or reality for that matter for such wild claims. But that doesn't seem to be stopping anyone these days.

  • Par for the course (Score:3, Interesting)

    by sictransitgloriacfa (1739280) on Sunday February 07, 2010 @06:10PM (#31055390)
    Aaaand the Democrats continue their almost-perfect record of being totally clueless and draconian on copyright issues.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by evanbd (210358)
      You say that as though they have a monopoly on it. This is not a partisan issue.
      • by Hawthorne01 (575586) on Sunday February 07, 2010 @07:41PM (#31056120)
        This is not a partisan issue.

        Nope, both parties are equally clueless on copyright.

        There's a good percentage of voters out there, though, who unfortunately believed that a politician groomed by the Mayor Daley's Machine would suddenly become a champion of human rights once he reached the Presidency.

        Whoops.

        It'd be interesting to hear what Lawrence Lessig has to say about this stunt, given that Lessig was/is a big supporter of Obama.

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by JNSL (1472357)
      Except this isn't a copyright issue. The prohibition is on image, not the picture.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by djmurdoch (306849)

      And Slashdot readers continue their 100% perfect record of not questioning the summary if it says something bad about someone they don't like.

      The actual claim on Flickr doesn't mention copyright at all. It says

      "This official White House photograph is being made available only for publication by news organizations and/or for personal use printing by the subject(s) of the photograph. The photograph may not be manipulated in any way and may not be used in commercial or political materials, advertisements, ema

    • by ucblockhead (63650) on Sunday February 07, 2010 @08:10PM (#31056300) Homepage Journal

      s/Democrats/elected officials/g

  • by sjames (1099) on Sunday February 07, 2010 @06:43PM (#31055676) Homepage

    It sounds more like Obama is tired of seeing blatant attempts to imply his (or Michelle's) endorsement of practically everything (which is a clearly deceptive practice). I doubt very much that an elementary schooler will get a visit from the secret service if they print one of those photos for a diorama.

    This may not be the very best way to accomplish that, but something needed to be done. It's hard to codify that sort of thing perfectly in a simple statement. Say "may not be used for commercial advertisement" and you'll see him appearing to endorse the flat-earthers or PETA. Say not for commercial purposes and the very much commercial news outlets are ticked off.

    • by bcmm (768152) on Sunday February 07, 2010 @06:56PM (#31055778)

      It sounds more like Obama is tired of seeing blatant attempts to imply his (or Michelle's) endorsement of practically everything (which is a clearly deceptive practice). I doubt very much that an elementary schooler will get a visit from the secret service if they print one of those photos for a diorama.

      "It sounds more like [The Government] is tired of seeing blatant attempts to [do something stupid] (which is [obviously wrong]). I doubt very much that [people not doing wrong things] will get a visit from the secret service if they [quite innocently violate this excessively far-ranging policy or law]."

      Please, everybody, stop posting things that fit this pattern. They have never, ever, been correct before.

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by mmcxii (1707574)
      So Obama using an axe instead of a scalpel on an issue that has hurt absolutely no one is OK with you?

      I wonder how you're going to feel when he's facing a real crisis and does the same thing.

      The bottom line is that this could have been handled better. Maybe not by Obama himself, maybe he would have needed some help but it still could have been handled better. And to be frank, I don't think we've seen the limits of how far this will go. I think there is going to be a backlash from this that is going to rea
    • by Vellmont (569020)

      I think you're spot on. The article focuses on copyright, which as I understand is not the end-all-be-all for speech (which is what we're really talking about here, not copyright).

      Talking about copyright is entirely missing the point. The full statement from the Whitehouse is:

      This official White House photograph is being made available only for publication by news organizations and/or for personal use printing by the subject(s) of the photograph. The photograph may not be manipulated in any way and may no

  • This notice has been a part of the WH photostream since at least November; Techdirt wrote about it [techdirt.com], and I wrote about it [blogspot.com].
  • ...using Creative Commons like they already are [whitehouse.gov]? Creative commons already states that on most of their licenses [creativecommons.org] that you can't use whatever is licensed in a way that makes it seem like the copyright holder (in this case, the US government) endorse you or your derivative work (without permission, of course, like if Obama officially said that he approved of something). I mean, really, there's WAY more than only two choices, and Creative Commons just makes sense to use.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by dsoltesz (563978)
      As mentioned elsewhere, federal government works cannot be copyrighted, period.
  • How can Obama continue to claim that he is going to run a "transparent" government?

    ... when his own white house staff wants to restrict photos that by law cannot be copyrighted?

    ... how TARP money that has been paid back by big banks is now going to be lent out to smaller banks. It basically means if the US taxpayer is paid back that money will be lent to somebody else, until the entity getting money fails to pay money back, i.e. we ensure we waste 700 billion dollars.

    ... how recovery.gov has tons
  • by Katchu (1036242)
    Also, software created by U.S. government employees cannot be copyrighted. You can ask for source code, but that may involve an Electronic Freedom of Information Act (EFOIA) request, and you'd have to pay for the cost of providing you that information (considerably less than the cost of the software source code if you developed it). Unfortunately most software now developed for U.S. government is written by contractors (not U.S. government employees), and most contractors retain all rights to that software
    • > ...most contractors retain all rights to that software...

      They don't retain all rights. The government gets a non-exclusive license.

  • If the government doesn't grant itself exclusive rights to photos produced by federal employees as part of their job responsibilities, then what incentive will the government or its employees have, to produce photos as part of their job responsibilities?! They need exclusive rights in order to recoup their investment without competing with knockoffs.

    • by Culture20 (968837)

      If the government doesn't grant itself exclusive rights to photos produced by federal employees as part of their job responsibilities, then what incentive will the government or its employees have, to produce photos as part of their job responsibilities?! They need exclusive rights in order to recoup their investment without competing with knockoffs.

      I sincerely hope you're going for ironical subtle humor, because the government's incentive to publish photos is... to publish photos. They were _Asking_ for them to be used in things other than the Flicker pages.

  • Something missing... (Score:3, Informative)

    by P0ltergeist333 (1473899) on Monday February 08, 2010 @02:13AM (#31058426)

    It seems there are multiple circumstances where the photos may be protectable:

    Caveats

            * Other persons may have rights either in the work itself or in how the work is used, such as publicity or privacy rights.
            * Not all work that appears on US Government Websites is considered to be a US Government work. Check with the content curator to see whether the work is a US Government Work. Works prepared for the United States Government by independent contractors may be protected by copyright, which may be owned by the independent contractor or by the United States Government.
            * The United States Government Work designation is distinct from designations that apply to works of US state and local governments. Works of state and local governments may be protected by copyright.
            * Copyright laws differ internationally. While a United States Government work is not protectable under United States copyright laws, the work may be protected under the copyright laws of other jurisdictions when used in other jurisdictions. Outside of the United States, the United States Government may assert copyright in United States Government works.

    (from: http://www.usa.gov/copyright.shtml [usa.gov])

    I wonder if any of those caveats apply here.

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