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Now in thinking about this a little more - I already own this content don't I (we!?)? How does it work when the US Government (funded by our tax dollars) publishes documents for public consumption? I know they charge fees for books and other hardcopy items but I believe this is for the cost of printing and publication. Does anyone have some insight to offer on this?
<<Now in thinking about this a little more - I already own this content don't I (we!?)?>>
I must admit that within the past month I too have harvested some graphics from some State Government pages. I also provide a link back to each States official website. I have never harvested/hijacked material from a site before, but the justification that I helped pay for these sites worked for me too :)
I can understand the thinking behind it being everyones property and that is the way I would hope it is.
I'm taking a blind guess that it would not be OK and the rules will vary from country to country
I *hope* that it would be everyones property
My Camaro? Cool! :)
Well, I can relate one personal experience, for what it's worth. My company developed and maintains a website for a New York State "council of government" -- a quasi-governmental organization, funded entirely by tax dollars. A few months after the site went online, the Council's staff contacted us because they'd found a site that had copied much of the content and they wanted to know if we had any connection to it. We did not; it was a local informational site operated by an ISP. The council contacted the company and demanded that they remove the "copyrighted" material. They suggested instead that the company provide a link to the Council's site.
What that tells me is that at the very least different bodies may take different approaches to the question. The most responsible approach is probably to contact the webmaster of the site you want to take content from, and ask them to explain their policy.
"Publications Incorporating U. S. Government Works
Works by the U. S. Government are not eligible for U. S. copyright protection. For works published on and after March 1, 1989, the previous notice requirement for works consisting primarily of one or more U. S. Government works has been eliminated. However, use of a notice on such a work will defeat a claim of innocent infringement as previously described provided the notice also includes a statement that identifies either those portions of the work in which copyright is claimed or those portions that constitute U. S. Government material.
Example: © 2000 Jane Brown. Copyright claimed in Chapters 7-10, exclusive of U. S. Government maps
Copies of works published before March 1, 1989, that consist primarily of one or more works of the U. S. Government should have a notice and the identifying statement."
THe point is US government stuff is not copyrighted, but you cannot claim copyright if you use it. Your tax dollars pay for this stuff, so it is by definition public domain.