Sunday, February 26, 2012

Copyright/contract and the traffic laws

It's a truism that a cop can stop any car, finding some sort of traffic violation within a few blocks of travel.  John Tehranian and others have argued that, though we mostly don't yet expect to be "pulled over" for ordinary uses, copyright is now in the same position.  This story (HT Zach Schrag) about the Obama campaign's violation of the stated restrictions on White House photos, which a spokesman then said weren't really restrictions, is a good example for that kind of claim.  Copyright doesn't actually apply to US government works, and there's no real consent to the "terms" of release, and yet in other circumstances I can easily imagine an enforcement attempt.  Many people don't worry about a bolt from the blue (or a visit from the boys in blue)--but if you're a member of a group that's targeted for other reasons, traffic and copyright laws both can be problems.

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