For the half-year to 30 June 2014, the IPKat's regular team is supplemented by contributions from guest bloggers Alberto Bellan, Darren Meale and Nadia Zegze.

Two of our regular Kats are currently on blogging sabbaticals. They are David Brophy and Catherine Lee.

Wednesday, 25 February 2004

SPACE COPYRIGHT LAW: HAVE YOU THOUGHT ABOUT MARS?

This guest blog is brought to you by Professor Adrian Sterling, our colleague at the Queen Mary Intellectual Property Research Institute. Adrian is a noted copyright scholar and the author of World Copyright Law, the second edition of which was published last year (reviewed by the IPKat here). Adrian writes:

"NASA sends a robot to Mars. Devices in the robot take a photograph of the Mars landscape and transmit the photograph back to NASA. NASA publishes the photograph. Does copyright subsist in the photograph (a) under the Berne Convention, (b) under the US Copyright Act 1976, (c) under the UK Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988? Does author’s right subsist in the photograph in the civil law jurisdictions, e.g. France?

The answers are not as obvious as may at first sight appear. One has first to analyse the making of the photograph. Did the photograph exist in copyright terms before being printed out by NASA? Who is the author of the photograph, or – does it have an author at all? Is it computer-generated? And what about the transmission? Is it a broadcast, and if so, does it come within the Rome Convention 1961?

These and similar questions have led the undersigned to propose a new area of Intellectual Property Law, namely Space Copyright Law, embracing issues (among others) of copyright subsistence (e.g. how do the criteria of the Berne and Rome 1961 Conventions and the TRIPs Agreement apply to material created in Space), and copyright infringement (e.g. what copyright remedies does the copyright owner have when a UK copyright protected work is transmitted without the copyright owner’s authority by an initiating transmission from a vehicle in Space, such transmission being received by the public in the UK).

Come to think of it - nearer home: I build a rowing boat and row out to the high seas: I sing a song: a beautiful performance, captured and broadcast to the world by a microphone held by a journalist in another boat. Is my performance protected under the Rome Convention 1961? Would it be different if I performed on the liner QM2? And is my performance protected if my singing is broadcast from a Space station? And what about the rights of the composer of the song?

If you would like to contribute to the debate on Space Copyright Law, log on to the Queen Mary Intellectual Property Research Institute Research website here and play your part in the construction of the law to apply to the cosmic future of mankind in the field of copyright".

More on space here, here and here
Be spaced-out here, here and here
Get your own personal space here.
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