Sunday, October 28, 2012

What does "counterfeit" mean for books?

This story of two reports, one allegedly an "addendum" to the first but from an entirely different source, with the same cover art, “key message” sections, chapter heads, fonts and footnotes, raises a number of interesting IP questions alongside the political/propaganda ones.  It reminds me of the pro-slavery "sequels" to Uncle Tom's Cabin by people who weren't Stowe, among other things.  The label "counterfeit" applied by one professor is about authenticity, not authorization.

Similarities such as "Both reports dedicate a chapter to transportation. Both illustrate key points with a photograph of a big rig, shot low to the ground from the driver's side" couldn't support a copyright claim, since the original is a work of the federal government.  And it's unlikely that many concepts of authors' rights/personhood/attribution rights would cover the government, though I suppose they could.  But does "addendum" (plus the other similarities, if they can properly be considered) communicate a false message that it comes from an official source in a way that would survive a Rogers v. Grimaldi examination?

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