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Original research[edit]

This whole article seems to be about a made-up expression which some people use to complain about things they don't like in the world of copyrights. Steve Dufour 12:59, 28 August 2007 (UTC)

It's definitely not original research by Wikipedia contributors. This is not about some nebulous things people don't like, but the tangible and clearly defined phenomenon of people falsely asserting copyright over works. The three links at the bottom should be integrated into the article as references, but they clearly explain and demonstrate the concept as it appears in third-party sources. ptkfgs 13:36, 28 August 2007 (UTC)

And I am removing the tag on the article placed by Steve based on Steve's speculations about the nature of the article.--Fahrenheit451 13:42, 28 August 2007 (UTC)

Thanks for improving the article. I have no objections now that the subject is better explained. Steve Dufour 02:17, 29 August 2007 (UTC)

Deep linking article violates WP:RS[edit]

I am removing this edit because, although it may be fact, the citation is from a blog and does not conform to the reliable source guideline.--Fahrenheit451 01:38, 29 August 2007 (UTC) site is not in english[edit]

I removed the reference to this web site as it can only be verified by a finnish speaking person. Therefore, it violate WP:V.--Fahrenheit451 02:36, 29 August 2007 (UTC)

Nonsense, Fahrenheit451; see WP:NONENG. And I'm sure you know that by now; this page needs archiving.--Elvey(tc) 17:33, 11 July 2015 (UTC)

Move page?[edit]

It seems pretty clear that "copyfraud" has emerged as the dominant term in English (rather than "copyright commandeering", which I hope is not such a mouthful in Finnish!). Perhaps we should request that this article be moved to Copyfraud. ptkfgs 02:05, 30 August 2007 (UTC)

I have no objections. -- Petri Krohn 05:03, 30 August 2007 (UTC)
That would be fine, but Copyright commandeering should redirect to Copyfraud.--Fahrenheit451 13:11, 30 August 2007 (UTC)
Done. -- Petri Krohn 15:27, 30 August 2007 (UTC)

Merge to Copyright misuse?[edit]

Whereas this title is a rhetorical term of recent vintage (that's a nice way of saying "neologism"), the term copyright misuse is recognized by the court system. It seems that much of the conduct discussed herein would be recognized as copyright misuse in court. --FOo 20:55, 27 October 2007 (UTC)

Copyfraud is a special form of copyright misuse, but is notable unto itself, thus deserves it own article. I will put a link to that article however.--Fahrenheit451 21:40, 27 October 2007 (UTC)

Well, as far as the references seem to lead, the term "copyfraud" is only used in publications by Jason Mazzone. None of the other references use the term. This suggests that it is an idiolect term for some variety of the same behavior which is known in legal terminology as copyright misuse.. --FOo 05:24, 28 October 2007 (UTC)
More accurately, I don't think it is idiolect, but rather a term originated by Jason Mazzone. He does not use any other idiosyncratic terminology, grammar, spelling, etc. with that term. Copyfraud is truly a special case of copyright misuse. The copyright misuse article has different content from the copyfraud article. --Fahrenheit451 18:35, 28 October 2007 (UTC)
Do we have any other sources for this term besides Mr. Mazzone's article? The pages at EFF,, and PC World that are also referenced here do not use the term. They refer to fair use, free expression, chilling effects, and other related ideas, but do not use the term "copyfraud".
I agree that the notion is interesting, but it isn't clear to me that it is recognized by any sources other than Mr. Mazzone as a "special case". --FOo 21:16, 28 October 2007 (UTC)

Currently, the "Copyright misuse" is confined to theoretical discussion of a specific narrow legal doctrine in U.S. law, while "Copyfraud" has wider scope (and doesn't even seem to mention the specific legal doctrine discussed in "Copyright misuse"). AnonMoos 18:13, 29 October 2007 (UTC)

I'd still like to see any reference for the term "copyfraud" that is not by Mr. Mazzone. --FOo 02:22, 30 October 2007 (UTC)

Still no non-Mazzone sources?[edit]

There still appear to be no sources for this term other than Jason Mazzone. Anyone? Anyone? --FOo (talk) 08:35, 13 December 2007 (UTC)

The term is widely used in the Wikipedia and on Commons. There are 73 matches at See also --Historiograf (talk) 02:26, 28 December 2007 (UTC)

Wikipedia cannot be cited as a reference for Wikipedia articles. The first of your two links, I'm not sure what it is? A summary of blog comments? The second is a blog entry about a Jason Mazzone paper. --FOo (talk) 07:35, 28 December 2007 (UTC)
Stop this dogmatic nonsense. If the term is used widespread it isn't relevant for the existence of an article COPYFRAUD here if Mazzone has invented it. -- (talk) 18:31, 24 January 2008 (UTC)
It's not "dogmatic nonsense" to point out that Wikipedia using a term doesn't make a term widespread in the real world. DreamGuy (talk) 00:32, 18 February 2009 (UTC)

See: Carol Ebbinghouse, "Copyfraud and Public Domain Works," Searcher: The Magazine for Database Professionals, vol. 16, no. 1, Jan 2008, page 40-62

Copyfraud mentioned in law articles (LexisNexis Search)[edit]

Copyright (c) 2007 Georgia Law Review Association, Inc. Georgia Law Review, Fall, 2007, 42 Ga. L. Rev. 1, 15889 words, ARTICLE: COLLATERALIZING INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY , Xuan-Thao Nguyen*

2 Copyright (c) 2007 Hofstra Law Review Association Hofstra Law Review, Spring, 2007, 35 Hofstra L. Rev. 1519, 17626 words, RECLAIMING THE FIRST AMENDMENT: CONSTITUTIONAL THEORIES OF MEDIA REFORM: OF BLOGS, EBOOKS, AND BROADBAND: ACCESS TO DIGITAL MEDIA AS A FIRST AMENDMENT RIGHT, Hannibal Travis*

3 Copyright (c) 2007 Journal of Law and Policy Journal of Law and Policy, 2007, 15 J.L. & Pol'y 1375, 17268 words, NOTE AND COMMENT: DO WE EVEN NEED A TEST? A REEVALUATION OF ASSESSING SUBSTANTIAL SIMILARITY IN A COPYRIGHT INFRINGEMENT CASE, Nicole K. Roodhuyzen*

4 Copyright (c) 2006 University of Miami Law Review University of Miami Law Review, October, 2006, 61 U. Miami L. Rev. 87, 31775 words, ARTICLE: Google Book Search and Fair Use: Tunes for Authors, or Napster for Books?, Hannibal Travis*

5 Copyright (c) 2007 Minnesota Law Review Minnesota Law Review, April, 2007, 91 Minn. L. Rev. 989, 22849 words, Article: Can Our Culture Be Saved? The Future of Digital Archiving, Diane Leenheer Zimmerman +

6 Copyright (c) 2006 New York University Law Review New York University Law Review, June, 2006, 81 N.Y.U.L. Rev. 1026, 27454 words, ARTICLE: COPYFRAUD, Jason Mazzone*

7 Copyright (c) 2007 Southern Methodist University SMU Law Review, Winter, 2007, 60 SMU L. Rev. 55, 21924 words, ARTICLE: The Trademark/Copyright Divide, Laura A. Heymann*

8 Copyright (c) 2007 Regents of the University of California UC Davis Law Review, November, 2007, 41 U.C. Davis L. Rev. 45, 25875 words, ARTICLE: Super-Copyright: Contracts, Preemption, and the Structure of Copyright Policymaking, Viva R. Moffat *

9 Copyright (c) 2007 Vanderbilt University Vanderbilt Law Review, January, 2007, 60 Vand. L. Rev. 135, 22789 words, ARTICLE: Copyright in an Era of Information Overload: Toward the Privileging of Categorizers, Frank Pasquale *

10 Copyright (c) 2007 The Yale Law Journal Company The Yale Law Journal, March, 2007, 116 Yale L.J. 882, 30237 words, ARTICLE: Risk Aversion and Rights Accretion in Intellectual Property Law, JAMES GIBSON -- (talk) 23:58, 24 January 2008 (UTC)

Thanks for doing the L-N search!--Fahrenheit451 (talk) 06:17, 25 January 2008 (UTC)


As copyfraud contains the word fraud and the article indicates it's criminal behavior, it should conform to the definition of fraud. Fraud does not exist if there is no INTENT to deceive. The article needs to reflect this.-- (talk) 23:51, 25 November 2008 (UTC)

Absolutely. A lot of the examples do not seem to fit the "fraud" label. DreamGuy (talk) 00:30, 18 February 2009 (UTC)

See Fraud, "In criminal law, fraud is the crime or offense of deliberately deceiving another in order to damage them – usually, to obtain property or services unjustly."--Fahrenheit451 (talk) 00:33, 19 February 2009 (UTC)

Yes, and before Wikipedia can say such things ARE fraud it needs to be PROVEN to be intentional misleading, not just an accusation made by someone tossing the term around. I removed a number of items that not only were disputable but which were clearly not fraud. If someone created a website and accused YOU of copyright fraud, by your logic in recent edit comments I could make this article say you are guilty of copyright fraud without trial or rebuttal or anything. That's not how Wikipedia really works, so the content I removed must stay removed, and the other content must be reworded. The examples section is going to be inherently POv-pushing without very tight editing making it clear we are not endorsing the claims. Our WP:RS and WP:NPOV policies are very clear on these kinds of situations. DreamGuy (talk) 13:42, 24 March 2009 (UTC)

I put the EFF/JibJab article into the convenience links. It is still a valid article on copyfraud. Please refrain from hypothetical and condescending commentary about me. --Fahrenheit451 (talk) 00:48, 26 March 2009 (UTC)

Please try reading the comments for their actual meaning instead of taking offense. If you'd read your definition of fraud above you'd know that pretty much none of the examples cited in the article would qualify, unless you can prove that the companies knew what they were saying was wrong. Good luck on that. DreamGuy (talk) 17:23, 29 March 2009 (UTC)

Is User:DreamGuy starting an edit war?[edit]

Dreamguy, if your edits are sincere, then please participate in a discussion.--Fahrenheit451 (talk) 04:33, 29 March 2009 (UTC)

I would have thought the discussion I already posted here and the edit comments would be very clear. If you are ignoring those comments, then that says more about you than about me. DreamGuy (talk) 17:20, 29 March 2009 (UTC)

NPOV problems[edit]

As mentioned a few times above, whether something is an example of "copyfraud" is, at heart, just an opinion. Wikipedia cannot state someone else's opinion as if it were a fact. If the EFF says something is copyfraud, the people EFF is accusing probably disagree, and have lawyers to argue that. Considering that the word contains "fraud" it implies a purposefully attempt to deceive people. You cannot label something as copyfraud unless it was proven that a) what they are saying in indisputably incorrect (which in legal situations is hard to prove), b) they weren't right to make their claims when they made them (a later court ruling clears up the current standing only at that time and may be overruled, and also may not have been clear when the claims were made), AND c) such incorrect statements were made intentionally and not just merely a mistake.

Not only is most of this article inherently pushing a POV, but the term itself is POV. There is no legal definition for copyfraud. Some people use it, but there is no legal definition. Other people use different terms (generally without "fraud" in the decription,a s that means something other than what most examples cited could at all plausibly support). This article needs MAJOR clean up to even stay as an article in the first place, but even minor edits to try to slightly improve things have been aggressively opposed by an editor who makes all sorts of bad faith assumptions.

If this article cannot be substantially improved so it does not violate WP:NPOV policy, it will have to be deleted. DreamGuy (talk) 17:18, 29 March 2009 (UTC)

We do not do original research on Wikipedia. We write articles based on verifiability. DreamGuy, you seem to be inventing your own policies here and that is not going to work. There does not have to be a legal definition of copyfraud for there to be an article on it. If you think a particular sentence or paragraph is not NPOV, then please specify exactly on this discussion page and we will proceed from there. --Fahrenheit451 (talk) 20:11, 30 March 2009 (UTC)

  • Comment Guys, to this third person, it looks like both of you are making good-faith efforts to make substantial improvements to the article, each in your own way. Can I suggest that you each agree to a cooling off period on editing for a few days, maybe a week? Try to discuss your objectives here on the talk page, and you may very well each start to see each other's objectives, and come to a consensus on what should be in the article. Usually, when I see an argument like this, watching the snark escalate, there's one party that appears to me to be clearly brandishing a pitchfork while the other one wears a halo. I'm not seeing that here; you're both sincerely working to better the article. So maybe take a moment and a deep breath or two, each of you can see the other's points. I think the article will be better for it. TJRC (talk) 02:08, 31 March 2009 (UTC)


Could do with a mention. They're one of the most notable corporations to whip out frivolous DMCAs, and the like, over their material. Sceptre (talk) 01:18, 16 December 2009 (UTC)

Actually, Scientology's problematic actions have been more often trying to deny fair use rights, or asserting bogus "trade secret" claims, rather than asserting copyright over material which they did not own the copyright to... AnonMoos (talk) 20:53, 28 October 2011 (UTC)

Mazzone's new book[edit]

A must read for anyone who cares about the future of creativity.

Why revert picture?[edit]

The "Copyrighted" photo from AFP/Getty images has been reverted twice, with very little explanation. Why? First reverter mentioned OR. I don't think this is OR any more than me going to a historic site and taking a photo there is OR. The second reverter said the caption has legal issues. The current caption is straight fact. Smallbones (talk) 14:56, 20 January 2012 (UTC)

I added the image the second time (didn't think to look in article history to see that it had just been removed -- sorry!), but I agree that Smallbones's caption is better, and more strictly factual, than the one I used. I did just add a mention of Agence France-Presse, who also watermarked the image. cmadler (talk) 17:27, 20 January 2012 (UTC)
I will revert it again, on the basis that it's mentioning in the context of copyfraud is invalid WP:SYN. The very mentioning of it within the context of copyfraud article creates a strong implication that this instance is copyfraud, and this claim is not WP:V and can be just plain wrong (we don't know how courts may decide on this issue, and the answer is not that straightforward - for example, they can try to claim "fair use" on the original Wikipedia image and claim copyright on the angle and background - which might or might not stand in court). The point is that it is not obvious that it is indeed copyfraud, and therefore we must not put the image in the context which creates such strong implications (implications can also constitute WP:SYN, see WP:SYN). Ipsign (talk) 06:11, 10 February 2012 (UTC)
The picture was again reverted - the edit summary stated because it violated WP:BLP. Come on now - that's pure nonsense, there's nothing BLP about it. The caption on the picture is purely factual. The claim that the picture could be fair use - so that they could sue Wikipedia is also nonsense. The "Fair Use defense" is purely a legal defense - you cannot sue anybody because you claim fair use, you can only defend yourself when you admit that you have used something copyrighted. The SYN reasoning has a bit more behind it - but are you claiming that this article can't be illustrated because nobody has ever been convicted (as far as I know) of copyfraud? How about if I include a picture of an 1850 photo (no question that it was published then and is now PD) together with a 2010 copyright notice? If you consider these to be SYN then half the material on Wikipedia would have to be deleted as SYN. We are definitely allowed to synthesize to the extent of saying "1 + 1 =2" As far as stating pure 100% fact but not saying "1 + 1 =2", if the reader wants to make an implication, that's entirely up to the reader. Smallbones (talk) 01:46, 21 February 2012 (UTC)

File:WP on Getty images with watermark.jpg Nominated for Deletion[edit]

Image-x-generic.svg An image used in this article, File:WP on Getty images with watermark.jpg, has been nominated for deletion at Wikimedia Commons in the following category: Deletion requests January 2012
What should I do?

Don't panic; a discussion will now take place over on Commons about whether to remove the file. This gives you an opportunity to contest the deletion, although please review Commons guidelines before doing so.

  • If the image is non-free then you may need to upload it to Wikipedia (Commons does not allow fair use)
  • If the image isn't freely licensed and there is no fair use rationale then it cannot be uploaded or used.

This notification is provided by a Bot --CommonsNotificationBot (talk) 18:49, 9 February 2012 (UTC)

External links[edit]

Hello editors. After looking at the External Links section in the Copyfraud article, I noticed that it passed beyond what is expected with WP:EL. There is spam for a book as well as several blog posts/articles/papers that should have their information incorporated into the article instead of being hidden down in EL section. This is an effort to gain WP:CONSENSUS on what meets WP:EL, adds to the encyclopedic knowledge of Copyfraud and should therefore be included in the EL section. If you haven't looked at WP:EL, you may find it interesting and helpful. Some quick bits: "Some external links are welcome (see What can normally be linked...), but it is not Wikipedia's purpose to include a lengthy or comprehensive list of external links related to each topic" and WP:ELPOINTS #3 "Links in the "External links" section should be kept to a minimum. A lack of external links or a small number of external links is not a reason to add external links." The burden of justification for a link being in an article's EL section is upon the person adding, in this case the reverter Ssilvers or any other editor here who believes these links meet WP:ELYES or WP:ELMAYBE and aren't running afoul of WP:ELNO.

I've added the links an editor would like to have in this article below to aid in the conversation:

  1. Copyfraud and Other Abuses of Intellectual Property Law Homepage
  2. "Throwing More Light on False Copyright Claims", Hellenic Historical and Genealogical Association article by James F. Ramaley, PhD.
  3. Carol Ebbinghouse, "The Sidebar: Copyfraud and Public Domain Works," Searcher: The Magazine for Database Professionals, vol. 16, no. 1, January 2008, pp. 40–62
  4. "Copyfraud", Electronic Frontier Foundation, by Fred von Lohmann.
  5. "Copyfraud: Poisoning the public domain - How web giants are stealing the future of knowledge" published by The Register 26 June 2009
  6. "Corbis & Copyright?: Is Bill Gates Trying to Corner the Market on Public Domain Art?", Tanya Asim Cooper, 2011, University of Alabama, School of Law.
  7. Copyfraud examples, Techdirt

An alternative to having all of these links (and/or more) is to add a category at DMOZ or other similar site, add all and any links to that collection and link to the collection in the EL section. I look forward to the discussion. Thanks, Stesmo (talk) 17:38, 15 June 2015 (UTC)

I agree that the links would be more useful as supporting sources for the article which needs more context. It only has two main sections, "Definitions" and "Cases," and should be expanded. --Light show (talk) 18:05, 15 June 2015 (UTC)
I agree that the links should be turned into supporting sources for expanded content. They obviously should not simply be deleted. -- Ssilvers (talk) 19:10, 15 June 2015 (UTC)
Absolutely... Being removed as External links does not preclude them being used as sources. As these have been in the EL section for a while, the best spot for them would be here, in Talk, so editors looking to add content to the article can find them and incorporate them into the article. Stesmo (talk) 19:27, 15 June 2015 (UTC)
Not sure if you're disagreeing, but just to be clear, I feel very strongly that they must *not* be removed from the EL section until the information in them is used in the article. -- Ssilvers (talk) 20:20, 15 June 2015 (UTC)
I agree that they should be used to contribute in the article and be cited. I disagree they should be in the EL section of the article until someone decides to do so. That does not meet WP:EL in spirit or letter. In fact, I just clicked on in the article history and saw that some of these links have been in the EL section of the article for at least SIX years (I didn't click past that). I'm sure if someone had intended to add them, they would have found the time to add them. Links should be removed from the EL section and added to the Talk page with a request to incorporate them into the article. Thanks, Stesmo (talk) 21:09, 15 June 2015 (UTC)
I disagree strongly. Now that you have raised this issue, be patient, and I will try to get to work, if no one beats me to it. -- Ssilvers (talk) 04:51, 16 June 2015 (UTC)

Off-topic image[edit]

Responding to the request for closure at WP:ANRFC. There was not enough support from editors in this discussion to remove the image. Note that I interpret the term "non-legal" to be intended as an argument about the image's relevance, not an argument that the image itself (which is licensed under CC) is illegal. If the latter, that would have to take precedence until the issue was resolved. Sunrise (talk) 01:05, 24 July 2015 (UTC)
The following discussion is closed. Please do not modify it. Subsequent comments should be made on the appropriate discussion page. No further edits should be made to this discussion.

Despite the fact that the "Evil Publishers" image was used to draw emotional attention to an uncited lecture on the subject, the image is in poor taste, IMO, and is unrelated to the subject of the article. We should not be throwing in biblical terms, such as "Evil" to turn a legal issue into a good-guys vs. bad-guys cartoon caricature. It's also misleading since the image only displays words, which wrongfully imply that those words were used by a RS to describe publishers who may be involved in copyfraud. As such, it makes a clear legal issue into an emotional one, similar to Evil empire or Axis of evil. It doesn't belong. --Light show (talk) 16:22, 17 June 2015 (UTC)

Hi. I am trying to understand what you are saying, but it is hard to take you seriously, when you say that the image is not related to the topic, because it is an image from a lecture about this topic. So, when you write that the image is "unrelated to the subject", you are so obviously wrong, that it calls into question everything that you are writing. Beyond that, the idea that many people find fraudulent behavior by publishers on a massive scale to be evil is not surprising, and it makes some sense to me to apply this label, at least in the context of the image's caption. I think that, very clearly, these publishers are "bad guys" here, and it is merely factual to say so. I also don't see how the fact that the image displays only words is misleading, although one could argue that the image could be interpreted to be condemning *all* publishers, which is not supported by the article. However, I don't think it's such a great image to illustrate this article because it *is* just words. If you can find other, better images, we might prefer to use those instead. Note, by the way, that I did not add this image, but when it was added, I had no objection to it. -- Ssilvers (talk) 17:50, 17 June 2015 (UTC)

Rfc: Does the image belong in the article?[edit]

Does the "Evil Publishers" image belong in the article? Light show (talk) 04:41, 18 June 2015 (UTC)

  • No: It's non-legal, displaying uncited language, and is thereby misleading. Light show (talk) 04:41, 18 June 2015 (UTC)
  • Neutral: Another image has just been added to the article, so I don't feel strongly, although I think it's an appropriate image for this article, as I note above. -- Ssilvers (talk) 05:18, 18 June 2015 (UTC)
  • Yes, retain the image as an example of the view many—including some large institutions—take about those that continue this behaviour. - SchroCat (talk) 07:54, 18 June 2015 (UTC)
  • Yes, the image is fine and is more than suitable for this article. CassiantoTalk 08:13, 18 June 2015 (UTC)
  • Yes, NPOV is there to display both sides opinion. --ThurnerRupert (talk) 08:30, 20 June 2015 (UTC)
  • Yes, there's nothing wrong with it. Lucutious (talk) 12:23, 22 June 2015 (UTC)
  • Harmless provided it is used to illustrate the perception of a particluar group, and hence backed by RS. All the best: Rich Farmbrough, 22:37, 15 July 2015 (UTC).

The discussion above is closed. Please do not modify it. Subsequent comments should be made on the appropriate discussion page. No further edits should be made to this discussion.


This article is entirely US-oriented. Obviously, copyright law varies in different jurisdictions, and so too do the details of copyright abuse. (On the other hand, sometimes the "abuse" comes from ill-judged or ill-informed attempts to apply the rules of one jurisdiction within another.) As far as I'm aware, the actual term "copyfraud" is not used outside the US. Either it should be made clear in the lede that this article is specifically about the US, or else some attempt should be made to globalize the discussion. GrindtXX (talk) 12:42, 21 June 2015 (UTC)

Misuse and mislabelling of public domain materials occurs globally, of course. Please go ahead and do the research to add sources from other countries. If you live outside the U.S., maybe your local librarian can help you find sources. All the best! -- Ssilvers (talk) 16:48, 21 June 2015 (UTC)
You're right, the article is essentially about the U.S., since all the cases about "copyfraud" are based in the U.S. But whether "copyfraud" as it's defined here, Claiming copyright ownership of public domain material, actually exists outside the U.S. may be an open question probably not yet litigated. The Berne Convention did not take effect in most countries until the late 1980s, and before then most U.S. laws about copyright or public domain had no relevance outside the U.S. There have been situations where older U.S. images recognized as public domain in the U.S., and therefore globally, have nonetheless been denied public domain status by some nations and institutions.--Light show (talk) 16:51, 21 June 2015 (UTC)

The sky is blue.[citation needed]???[edit]

Manipulated image entitled "Sosumi". The claim (on The White House's flickr account) that this "photograph may not be manipulated in any way" is a copyright claim to content that, as a United States federal government work, is in the public domain.

I don't think that this is OR needing an RS - more so than the proverbial sky is blue is not OR needing an RS. The revert's summary was, "Not a "case," a likely example. But still based on OR without a RS." "The question is (not whether readers can or can not be expected to have knowledge of a certain fact, but) whether the fact in question is a relevant point of debate in the expert literature on the article topic." - a quote from from WP:NOTBLUE I don't think copyright experts would debate whether this "photograph may not be manipulated in any way" is a copyright claim to content that, as a United States federal government work, is in the public domain. Discuss? I ask someone to revert this revert or suggest a compromise. I'll make a compromise attempt.--Elvey(tc) 03:11, 10 July 2015 (UTC)

I agree that the image is acceptable. Copyfraud includes making any claim of copyright to public domain materials, which this does on its face. I agree that this image falls under WP:BLUE. The fact that it was next to the "cases" section is not a reason to complain about it. -- Ssilvers (talk) 03:52, 10 July 2015 (UTC)
While the photo is cool, it's still not an image that should or could be used to give an example of copyfraud. WP editors don't decide what's copyfraud, RSs do. In any case, as the rationale stated, this is still an example of using synthesis OR. If that was acceptable, we could all visit Corbis and pull an unlimited number of images. In fact, if and when Corbis does start selling the photo and adds a copyright notice somewhere on their web page, we still can't claim it's copyfraud since we are not reliable sources. And what we "think copyright experts" would say is actually less than synth.
There's also the issue of personality rights which the government's statement was mostly covering. By "manipulating," they were possibly referring to altering or misusing the image, such as by cropping, or using it in other ways which would misrepresent the purpose of the photo. --Light show (talk) 04:48, 10 July 2015 (UTC)
But neither my original edit nor my second attempt (which you don't indicate having looked at) claim it's an example of copyfraud. Please don't make straw man arguments. Please don't blow off the quote from WP:NOTBLUE -- "The question is (not whether readers can or can not be expected to have knowledge of a certain fact, but) whether the fact in question is a relevant point of debate in the expert literature on the article topic." If what was acceptable?? Corbis - Huh??? Please be clear - do you dispute that the work is PD or accept that it's PD? If you dispute it, why??? What they were possibly trying to say is far less relevant than what they actually said. Cropping it is perfectly legal.
Making this derivative was fun and legally safe, but I won't be trying to add it to the article.

--Elvey(tc) 19:26, 10 July 2015 (UTC)

US Government work is not "public domain" in the common sense of being usable by anyone at any time in any manner for any purpose[edit]

Works produced for the US government may be subject to copyright law and are not automatically "public domain" for commercial use. The source states "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. " This limitation is thus not an example of "copyfraud" but a restriction on using a manipulated image for a specific commercial or political purpose. Find a better case. Collect (talk) 14:48, 10 July 2015 (UTC)

See also:

[1] "It may seem like re-tweeting a picture that features a celebrity, such as the President, is a fairly innocent activity. And it may be, if you’re tweeting as a consumer. But when a company does the same thing, the action could constitute a violation of the celebrity’s right of publicity. The risk can be even higher with elected politicians – especially with the President of the United States – because the false affiliation and endorsement claims are arguably stronger than for entertainers who are not in the business of endorsing causes and issues, as politicians do on a regular basis. As we noted last month, companies need to be careful about showing or mentioning celebrities in ads. This incident demonstrates that even using an image in your tweet could lead to complaints."
[2] "Two American companies have been forced to pull the plug on advertising campaigns that used images of the President and First Lady without White House permission."

Has not been tested by anyone yet - but clearly political ads which do not use an image to imply an endorsement of a position in itself are likely not affected at all. Back in the 30's, FDR used copyright law to prevent use by Republicans of his speeches in campaign advertisements on radio. Collect (talk) 14:58, 10 July 2015 (UTC)

US Government work is "public domain" in the legal sense[edit]

  1. It should be clear already, but let me emphasize: I agree - there's nothing wrong with the "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. " part. On that, we agree. It's just the "The photograph may not be manipulated in any way" that is bull. Therefore...
  2. WRONG: "Works produced by the US government may be subject to copyright law and are not automatically "public domain" for commercial use." Sorry, but this comment displays ignorance. See here - where the WashPo issues this: "Correction: An earlier version of this blogpost stated that [this image] violated the White House’s copyright." See also - and it sources (eminent legal entities - CC and the EFF ) the licensing was and the restriction is CLEARLY wrong, as User:Ssilvers says, on its face.
  3. With the addition of another "that", the source's restriction would be fine: "The photograph may not be manipulated in any way that, 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. "--Elvey(tc) 19:26, 10 July 2015 (UTC)

User:Elvey, can you add something helpful in the footnote to the caption? All the best! -- Ssilvers (talk) 20:38, 10 July 2015 (UTC)

To the caption in the article? Apropos what I said in this subsection? Something like this? :

Reports by the legal rights-focused Creative Commons (CC) and the Electric Frontier Foundation (EFF) have noted that, e.g. "official photos by the official White House photographer ... aren't copyrightable ... should instead be flagged as public domain."[1] Thus the White House cannot claim a copyright interest in the work. (The fact that a work is in the public domain does not mean it is usable by anyone at any time in any manner for any purpose; there are a few narrow exceptions carved out in US law regarding classified information, certain law enforcement records, personality rights, etc.)

Sure. Done. (Version I put in is slightly different.) Even including something to address User:Collect's concerns. --Elvey(tc) 17:25, 11 July 2015 (UTC)
I see you removed the parenthetical, which I added to address some of Collect's concerns, because it's unreferenced. Fair enough. --Elvey(tc) 17:52, 11 July 2015 (UTC)

Slam Dunk: Techdirt on record calling it copyfraud[edit]

"The White House is ignoring what that license says in claiming that the photograph "may not be manipulated in any way." That's clearly untrue under the law and a form of copyfraud, in that they are overclaiming rights."

And for dessert, read the last sentence of the article. And then note the piece-de-resistance: the image that follows it.


So we have a RS saying its copyfraud (and the fact that they say it's "clearly untrue" supports my point that we don't even need the RS, per WP:NOTBLUE) --Elvey(tc) 17:25, 11 July 2015 (UTC)

This is all good, and I added the Techdirt mateial, but photo captions need to be concise, so I moved the text into the footnote. -- Ssilvers (talk) 17:52, 11 July 2015 (UTC)
Looks good! You beat me to it. I'd like to add A reporter called this "a form of copyfraud, in that they are overclaiming rights." to the caption itself. Thoughts or alternatives? --Elvey(tc) 18:00, 11 July 2015 (UTC)
I would not add anything in the caption. Keep captions concise. -- Ssilvers (talk) 00:00, 16 July 2015 (UTC)
Not so good IMO, and still a poor supporting image. It smacks of desperation to prove why the photo should be included. But it actually replaces what should be a sky blue example with a dust storm explanation (since you don't mind mixing metaphors like "slam dunk" with "touchdown"). It also may harm the article since what should be clear example now needs over 130 words to fully explain why it's copyfraud. And the average reader may not bother figuring it out. It's also a weak example because it cites a non-expert blogger's opinions, a poor RS.
A stronger and clearer example would have been citing Mazzone, the attorney who coined the word. In his book intro he gives many examples, such as "copyright notices appear on modern reprints of William Shakespeare's plays" even though all his writings are PD. Someone could screen capture a copyright notice from one of those and add it as non-free, with supporting commentary and cite. Then the caption would only need a sentence, since the image says it all: "All rights reserved, including the right to reproduce this book or portions thereof in any form whatsoever." I think if someone did that they'd hit a home run! --Light show (talk) 18:30, 11 July 2015 (UTC)


  1. Copyfraud is knowingly overstating IPRs. We should not list cases where there are not RS to show that it was knowing, unless we make it clear that this was not established. Especially relating to LPs.
  2. The case law in different countries may vary or not be settled over the copyright in derivative works. While, for example, Wikipedia takes the approach that a faithful two dimensional reproduction of a two dimensional PD work is itself PD, and is on fairly firm ground in the US, there is no guarantee in other common law countries that this is or will remain the case. Surprising precedent is being set all the time. Consider this case for example.

All the best: Rich Farmbrough, 22:35, 15 July 2015 (UTC).

Hi, Rich. I disagree with your first point. No legal knowledge is required [Edit add: as I discuss below, legal intent can be inferred from the false claim itself in many instances] -- you commit copyfraud when you state that you have rights that you do not have, even if you are merely mistaken[Edit add: so long as it would not be reasonable for you to believe the claim you are making -- see below, and see Mazzone's article]. In fact, I think, based on what our references say, that the first sentence should use the term Copyright misuse instead of fraud. -- Ssilvers (talk) 23:59, 15 July 2015 (UTC)
"Fraud" and "misuse" have two different meanings. Fraud is always intentional, misuse is not. Copyfraud is just a specific type of fraud. Mazzone makes that very clear. --Light show (talk) 00:35, 16 July 2015 (UTC)

[left]Actually, Mazzone makes it clear that copyfraud does *not* require a specific showing of intent. His article says: "Falsely marking a public domain work undermines expression even if the false marking was not made with any intent to trick somebody into making payment. ... it makes sense to impose liability for copyfraud without requiring plaintiffs to establish all of the elements of the traditional tort of fraud ... plaintiffs should be permitted to establish intent by inference. Furthermore, a cause of action in copyfraud should not require proof of detrimental reliance. Finally, as explored in greater detail below in the discussion of standing, the cause of action should not be limited to individuals who have suffered an actual injury. Instead, any member of the public should be empowered to bring a copyfraud claim."

Mazzone analogizes to a similar patent cause of action where the the plaintiff may show "by a preponderance of the evidence that the party accused of false marking did not have a reasonable belief that the articles were properly marked ... courts have ... recognized that intent can be established where notice has been provided that a marking is false and the defendant continues to mismark the product." Mazzone concludes that "Relaxing the traditional elements of the tort of fraud in these ways makes sense in light of the important public interest at stake in protecting the public domain." (see pp. 1074-1078)

He gives an example of inferring intent: "because it is impossible to believe that a play by Shakespeare is copyrightable, a publisher who attaches a copyright notice to the play would easily be found to have acted with deceptive intent. While, therefore, liability would not be imposed on the basis of mere negligence, intent could be inferred." Similarly, it is impossible to believe that a photo by the White House photographer is copyrightable. Mazzone makes it clear that "copyfraud" is not simply a kind of fraud. Therefore, I have undone one of the edits made a week or two ago by Light show, in the Lead, to restore the description to copyright misuse, which is a broad enough description to accurately encompass copyfraud. -- Ssilvers (talk) 04:22, 16 July 2015 (UTC)

Good analysis, Ssilvers.--Elvey(tc) 18:12, 17 July 2015 (UTC)

Poor definition. Who besides you has used "copyright misuse" as a term to describe copyfraud? Without a good RS, the best being Mazzone, this would be obvious snythesis. Unless I'm missing something, to say that "copyfraud" is not a type of fraud, implies that the word itself is wrong. Is that what you're claiming?

In any case, the copyright misuse cases involve owners of patents or copyrights, not persons falsely claiming ownership, which is the essence of copyfraud. At best we would include "copyright misuse" along with "fraud" in the lead definition. There's no reason to water down the violation as you keep trying to do. The "copyright misuse" issue mostly involves "overreaching," which could possibly be done unintentionally. And "copyright misuse is an equitable defense against copyright infringement," which fraud would not be. The sentence your rewrote to, "Copyfraud is a form of copyright misuse," has therefore been truncated and redefined contrary to the sources. --Light show (talk) 19:52, 17 July 2015 (UTC)

Fair enough, Light show. I've removed the words "copyright misuse" and offered another description that I think is neutral and conforms with Mazzone's article. I think I mostly agree with what you just wrote. Also, to the extent that copyfraud describes a legal principal that is in some ways broader than fraud, then yes, the name "copyfraud" could be considered too narrow. But I don't think that's a problem. Lots of things bear a name that indicates the basic idea without being exactly correct as to the scope of the idea that it names. For example, "copyright" is not just about copying. -- Ssilvers (talk) 21:01, 17 July 2015 (UTC)
I think it is not an issue to say that in certain jurisdictions intent (to mislead) can be inferred. But it far from simple to do so, and the place of a court, not Wikipedia, or indeed journalists. Just to take your two examples, almost every copy of a Shakespeare play published in modern times has linguistic changes from the original(s), and maybe even selections of which version of the early copies to follow - does this pass the bar for creativity? And the White House photographer is not obviously a US Government employee, the entourage of leaders often includes state, party and personal employees, contractors and so forth (though of course some groups of people could be expected to know that they are) - and only photographs taken as part of their duties are public domain. See for example the fuss over the Nelson Mandela picture.
All the best: Rich Farmbrough, 13:38, 4 August 2015 (UTC).
Rich, copyfraud is a concept that has been described in law review articles, other journals and books by Mazzone and other legal commentators, and it describes a group of rights and proscriptions that are partly already scattered around in the law, but that were not previously grouped together formally. It is something that these law professors, journalists and legal commentators are suggesting *should be* adapted and/or acknowledged more formally (and grouped under the umbrella of the term) by the courts and/or legislatures, but which have not, to date, been *widely* defined by courts and considered *together* formally by courts and legislatures. The examples of cases that we give are merely examples to show that some courts have noticed and applied the term in describing one or more of these kinds of wrongful activities. The purpose of this article is to collect, and present in encyclopedia format, what Mazzone and the various commentators, including journalists, have said in fleshing out the concept. As a lawyer, I think the white house photo is a rock solid example of misuse of a public domain photo, but if you have a better example to replace it, that would be fine with me. -- Ssilvers (talk) 16:37, 4 August 2015 (UTC)
Oh I absolutely agree that the claim is misleading, and should have been better worded. And I have no issue with a broader definition of the term, certainly we must be clear about the definition, and use it appropriately.
My concern is that we are very careful, especially with living people, not to make claims of copyfraud that are not at the very least called such by suitable RS, and that we attribute clearly.
The reason I mention the White House photographer is to make it clear that what a reasonable person would believe is dependent on personal context. Imagine, say, a high school student from a far country with limited English calls the White House press office and requests permission to use a photograph in a project, they are told that "Certainly you may use it." Having a basic understanding of copyright law they produce their project, and mark the photograph as "Copyright US Government, all rights reserved" - exactly as they do with other pictures from other sources. They are, I think, undeniably acting as a reasonable and responsible person would in their situation.
All the best: Rich Farmbrough, 21:44, 4 August 2015 (UTC).
No one is accusing the photographer of anything. The photo was published by the White House, so there is no BLP issue, if that's what worries you. Also, the footnote to the photo caption (currently footnote 10) clearly states who called the image copyfraud. -- Ssilvers (talk) 22:51, 4 August 2015 (UTC)
Not sure how you could have gained that impression! Face-smile.svg It's more cases like Michael Crook, where it is clear that he did not understand copyright law, if we take our article at face vale. The Holmes case was a reasonable copyright dispute, since some of the work was still copyright, there is a case that derivative work is an infringement. It's by no means clear that terms of use which limit parties ability to re-publish PD work are not enforceable (AAS).
All these cases are about the boundary of the public domain, but they are not necessarily about copyfraud.
On a side note, I just received an email from Google confirming that they have taken down a copyfraud book as I requested.
All the best: Rich Farmbrough, 00:46, 5 August 2015 (UTC).
Just a note to restate a comment about this example that I made a while back, that because it's a case of "overreaching," which is a much more vague form of copyfraud, the image with its lengthy explanation is not a good example. It actually over complicates what's really a simple issue: falsely claiming a copyright over PD material. That's only be implied with this example. I'd suggest finding something more clear cut so more people intuitively understand the problem. --Light show (talk) 23:32, 4 August 2015 (UTC)

Accessory to copyfraud?[edit]

Here's a hypothetical question: Imagine that company A appears to be committing copyfraud. Person B wants to use an image that Company A falsely claims copyright over. However, company C, which is unrelated to company A, nonetheless prevents person B from using it because of company A's claim. The question: is company C engaging in or are they an accessory to Copyfraud? --Light show (talk) 21:22, 14 May 2016 (UTC)

Company C cannot assert someone else's copyright unless it (1) has a contractual right to do so; and (2) the copyright being asserted is valid in the first place. Otherwise, Company C could be sued under copyfraud theories. This is sort of like the GEMA case mentioned in the article. -- Ssilvers (talk) 21:41, 14 May 2016 (UTC)
Makes sense. Not long ago, over 100 photos, all pre-1979 originals with no notice front or back, were uploaded to the WP Commons and were subsequently deleted because an editor tagged them. They were tagged since Corbis or Bettman was selling copies and had a copyright notice on their web page. The uploader was blocked from uploading anything else, partly because they claimed that Corbis's notices were a form of copyfraud. What's worse, is that when the blocked editor explained to the tagging editor that Corbis was committing copyfraud, the tagging editor did not disagree, yet refused to restore the images. --Light show (talk) 22:02, 14 May 2016 (UTC)
As one discussion made clear, as with private or small business users, fear of lawsuit was the deciding factor, not legality. --Light show (talk)
Note that when the WP or wikimedia community takes down an image, it is not copyfraud, because the community is not claiming any copyright in the image; it's just saying that our policy is "not to post" anything unless someone proves to us that they hold the copyright, that there is a free license, or that the work is in the public domain. A DMCA notice, on the other hand, states that copyright has been claimed, so that statement can be examined for copyfraud. -- Ssilvers (talk) 22:48, 14 May 2016 (UTC)
However, if they take down an image because of a Corbis claim, would they become an accessory? The original question related to someone preventing an upload, effectively supporting copyfraud. I don't think WP itself ever claims copyright, only uploaders can do that. --Light show (talk) 22:57, 14 May 2016 (UTC)
First of all, the word "accessory" is not helpful – that is a criminal law concept, and you are talking about a civil lawsuit. I don't think that one could prevail in a suit against Wikimedia for failing to display any image, and I think it would be unlikely that one would succeed against an individual or organization who makes a claim resulting in Wikimedia taking down an image. In any case, it would be very expensive and time consuming to bring such a suit. It would be far easier to make a clear and persuasive case to the community as to why you believe that the image is free and can be displayed on Commons. Sometimes, if you go to a project page for a related group of topics you can find other users who can help you to make the case in the discussion at the image Talk page. All the best! -- Ssilvers (talk) 00:29, 15 May 2016 (UTC)
You're right about "accessory." You're also right about any suits, but for another reason: No one will sue a company for committing copyfraud. All you can do is wait till Corbis files suit and defend yourself. Which really means they win by default, since they have in-house attorneys that drive any defender into losing by overwhelming force. Which also implies that Corbis and others have overridden copyright laws, making much of U.S. copyright law a sham, thanks to digitization. As this article states, "Because copyfraud carries little or no oversight by authorities and few legal consequences, it exists on a massive scale, millions of works in the public domain falsely labelled as copyrighted.".--Light show (talk) 01:06, 15 May 2016 (UTC)

Is the National Portrait Gallery in London committing copyfraud?[edit]

Came across this article claiming that it is. While they let users download low-res images of, for example, William Shakespeare, Richard III, Queen Elizabeth 1, King John and King Henry V, they claim copyrights over the high-res image, which they sell licenses to use. Should this be an example for the article? --Light show (talk) 19:45, 15 July 2016 (UTC)

It is copyfraud to claim copyright in a photograph of a public domain artwork. Yes, please add an example for this! -- Ssilvers (talk) 20:56, 15 July 2016 (UTC)
I also posted the question at Commons to get their feedback, since it's also a commons issue. We can give it some time. --Light show (talk) 21:16, 15 July 2016 (UTC)
I hope you don't wait for Commons. The folks at Commons are required to comply with Wikimedia's rules; they are not required to be copyright law experts. Maybe someone there will be helpful here, but you should not count on it. -- Ssilvers (talk) 21:22, 15 July 2016 (UTC)
en:National Portrait Gallery and Wikimedia Foundation copyright dispute. Blue Rasberry (talk) 21:30, 15 July 2016 (UTC)
Sort of reminds me of some questions I once posted. And I still don't understand why WP, of all organizations, doesn't rely on having its own dedicated copyright attorneys. --Light show (talk) 22:19, 15 July 2016 (UTC)
Light show -- It would be copyfraud in the United States where Bridgeman Art Library v. Corel Corp. applies, but things are not quite as clear in the UK. AnonMoos (talk) 14:54, 17 July 2016 (UTC)
The laws appear similar: In the UK, Copyright automatically exists under law whenever an individual creates any type of work listed above provided it is original (not directly copied or adapted from an existing work) .... And copying a work requires an owner's permission. For older materials, When the term of copyright protection has expired, the work falls into the public domain. This means that the work, has effectively become public property and may be used freely. --Light show (talk) 17:20, 17 July 2016 (UTC)
I agree with Lightshow. There seem to be some good refs for Lightshow to use in the example here, as Blue Rasberry pointed out. Besides, the question is a US law question, since US law governs what is displayed on Commons. -- Ssilvers (talk) 17:24, 17 July 2016 (UTC)
However, claiming "fraud" requires some very good reliable sources. The TechDirt source first noted is probably not one, as the writer does not claim to be an expert or even lawyer. For a WP editor to use it, or any other cases as an example, would otherwise be a synthesis IMO. --Light show (talk) 17:35, 17 July 2016 (UTC)
Exactly. The purpose of this article is not to debate Commons policy, but to report in a neutral and objective way what reliable sources have said about copyfraud (and no, I don't think a blog post from "the wtf? dept" counts as a reliable source). The law certainly is different in the UK (or, at least, works differently in practice). It is standard UK practice for institutional repositories (museums, galleries and libraries) to insist that their permission is obtained for publishing images of two-dimensional artwork in their collections, and to charge reproduction fees (though they may, and often do, waive the fees where the publication is not-for-profit, or allow free publication of low-resolution images). Arguments about older work, expiration of copyright, and the work entering the public domain don't apply because the 70-year rule on copyright only kicks in once the work is published in the first place (in other words, Shakespeare's plays, or an engraved portrait of Shakespeare, having once been published, and 70 years having elapsed since the author's or engraver's death, are now in the public domain; but a painted portrait of Shakespeare, unpublished at the time, is still potentially the intellectual property of the artist's heirs). The question of whether the "added value" contributed by a skilled photographer making a high-quality image of an old work is sufficient to create a new copyrightable work – the issue at the heart of Bridgeman Art Library v. Corel Corp. – is one that still hasn't really been fully debated or settled in the English (or Scottish) courts, and given that it also involves UK compliance with EU law is something that I doubt will be settled definitively any time soon. I suggested over a year ago (above) that this article should take a more global perspective, and I'd welcome more on the situation in the UK and elsewhere, bur we need reliable sources (preferably secondary sources) first. GrindtXX (talk) 18:45, 17 July 2016 (UTC)
I added some clarifying details to the article noting that it's as yet only a U.S. legal concept, not a global one. Other places in the commentary could also be clarified. --Light show (talk) 19:48, 17 July 2016 (UTC)

We cite Australian law in the article. Also, Cory Doctorow is a Canadian-British journalist, and the Boing Boing site, which is used in the article, does not rely only on US law. So I think it is wrong to say that the article is about US law. Here is a German book about Copyfraud. Here are French sources [3] [4] and [5]. The problem is not that copyfraud is a U.S. concept; the problem is that we have not added the foreign sources. I don't speak French or German. Can anyone help add foreign sources? There appear to be lots of book sources, if anyone wanted to look at them. -- Ssilvers (talk) 21:30, 17 July 2016 (UTC)