White House asserts copyright over Flickr photos

The White House is trying to assert copyright over the work of the official White House photographer. They are attaching this notice to each photo on the White House Flickr account:

This official White House photograph is being made available only for publication by news organizations and/or for personal use printing by the subject(s) of the photograph. 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.

I’m not sure what the law is regarding the unauthorized use of a photo to imply an endorsement, but the rest of this is garbage. US Government work is in the public domain. In fact, each page of the White House Flickr account includes a link to a page at US.gov that explains exactly that:

A work that is a United States Government work, prepared by an officer or employee of the United States Government as part of that person’s official duties, is not subject to copyright in the United States and there are no U.S. copyright restrictions on reproduction, derivative works, distribution, performance, or display of the work.

So, in honor of the White House’s ham-handed effort illegally to limit the use of its photos, here’s a photo of the back of the president’s head:

POSTSCRIPT: The White House may be skirting the law even by claiming this copyright. The US Copyright code says:

Fraudulent Copyright Notice. — Any person who, with fraudulent intent, places on any article a notice of copyright or words of the same purport that such person knows to be false, or who, with fraudulent intent, publicly distributes or imports for public distribution any article bearing such notice or words that such person knows to be false, shall be fined not more than $2,500.

I imagine that the “fraudulent intent” proviso gets them off-the-hook though.

(Via Instapundit.)

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