[WikiEN-l] Possibly unfree US government portraits

Uncle Jiang unclejiang at gmail.com
Wed May 17 18:23:21 UTC 2006

I am involved in a dispute at
the copyright status of official potraits commissioned by the U.S.
government. Since this could lead to the deletion or "fair use" tagging of
these images, some more input here is really needed here.

I listed [[:Image:Rbreich.jpg]] as a PUI because the painter, Richard
Whitney, does not seem to be a U.S. federal government employee. According
to 17 U.S.C. §101 "A 'work of the United States Government' is a work
prepared *by an officer or employee of the United States Government as part
of that person's official duties*." If Richard Whitney was not employed by
the DoL with the assigned duty of painting an official portrait, then I do
not believe the image can be claimed to be public domain. Commissioned works
and works for hire can still be copyrighted, as 17 U.S.C. § 105 states
"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*." (Disclaimer: IANAL)

Some with the legal expertise or insight should comment. If I am held to be
right, then a great number of images clearly not created by a federal
employee or officer will have to be de-tagged as PD.


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