Tuesday, July 21, 2020

Title 17, Section 105: "Subject matter of copyright: United States Government works" has been updated

Section 105 of Title 17 has been fairly short, but: the footnote on that section notes:
In 2019, the National Defense Authorization Act of Fiscal Year 2020 amended section 105 by adding “(a) In general.—” before “Copyright”; and by adding new subsections (b), (c), and (c). Pub. L. No. 116-92, 133 Stat. 1198. 
All of Section 105 now reads:
(a) In General.—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.
(b) Copyright Protection of Certain of Works.—Subject to subsection (c), the covered author of a covered work owns the copyright to that covered work.
(c) Use by Federal Government.—The Secretary of Defense may direct the covered author of a covered work to provide the Federal Government with an irrevocable, royalty-free, world-wide, nonexclusive license to reproduce, distribute, perform, or display such covered work for purposes of the United States Government.
(c) Definitions.—In this section:
(1) The term “covered author” means a civilian member of the faculty of a covered institution.
(2) The term “covered institution” means the following:
(A) National Defense University.
(B) United States Military Academy.
(C) Army War College.
(D) United States Army Command and General Staff College.
(E) United States Naval Academy.
(F) Naval War College.
(G) Naval Post Graduate School.
(H) Marine Corps University.
(I) United States Air Force Academy.
(J) Air University.
(K) Defense Language Institute.
(L) United States Coast Guard Academy.
(3) The term “covered work” means a literary work produced by a covered author in the course of employment at a covered institution for publication by a scholarly press or journal.
 Yes, there are two sebsections "c". The footnotes on the second Subsection (c) states:
When the National Defense Authorization Act of Fiscal Year 2020 added three new subsections to section 105, it designated them (b), (c), and (c). But for this typographical error, the third new subsection would have been designated as (d).
I find it interesting that the new sections (b), (c) and (c) are specific to U.S. military-related educational institutions.  This means that faculty at those institutions may be required to give the copyright in their works to the federal government. I would be curious to know what this means in reality to those faculty members. What are the positives and negatives of this?  Is this being enforced on new works only?

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