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Work of the United States government

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Definition Edit

U.S. copyright law Edit

A work of the United States government (also called a Government work) is

a work prepared by an officer or employee of the United States Government as part of that person’s official duties.[1]

Overview Edit

Those duties may be expressed or implied. A Government work results even though the work was prepared using the author-employee's own time, material, or facilities.

Two examples of Government works are —

(1) A work the preparation of which is necessary for the proper performance and accomplishment of an employee's duties or responsibilities, as those duties or responsibilities are specifically prescribed in the employee's job description.
(2) A work the preparation of which was requested, directed, instructed, or otherwise ordered by an appropriate official.

The use of Government time, material, or facilities in creating a work does not necessarily result in that work being a work of the United States Government. Also, the subject matter of the work, unless the work is prepared as part of the employee's official duties, does not automatically establish the work as a work of the United States Government. This is true even though the subject matter of the work may be directly related to the author-employee's official duties. Thus, the above factors do not preclude the existence of a copyright belonging to the author-employee.

Where Government time, material, or facilities are used in the preparation of the work, but, based on the principles above, a copyright subsists in the work, 28 U.S.C. §1498(b) does not confer a right of action on the Government employee copyright owner or his or her assignee for infringement by the U.S. federal Government. This is interpreted to mean that the Government is entitled to a royalty-free license to duplicate, distribute, and use the copyrighted work and to have others do so for its benefit.

The author of a work of the United States Government has no rights in the work which can be conveyed. If a potential publisher asks the employee to sign an assignment of a copyright, the publisher should be advised that the work is a work of the United States Government. However, if the publisher insists on the employee executing a document as a prerequisite to publishing the work, the employee may sign a statement which indicates he or she is assigning whatever copyright rights may exist in the work. When material subject to a Government license is submitted to a publisher, the publisher should be advised of the existence of the license to the Government. This will avoid subsequent embarrassment to the author or the publisher if the Government exercises its license.

If a copyrighted work consists of one or more works of the United States Government, the law requires affirmative or negative identification of the sections which are actually copyrighted, thereby indicating which portions are works of the United States Government.

References Edit

  1. 17 U.S.C. §101.

Source Edit

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