A question for IP experts: What is the legal status of falsely claiming copyright?
I often see reprints of works that are definitely in the public domain, stamped by their publishers with a current copyright (with no qualification as to whats being copyrighted, e.g., no restriction to a new introduction or to new illustrations and often theres no such new material in any case).
Given that such copyright notices could be interpreted as implying a threat of force that is regarded as illegitimate even under current IP law, is there any law against what theyre doing? Are they vulnerable to any sort of cease-and-desist order? Or are false copyright notices just regarded as harmless speech until they make an effort to enforce them?
If this goes on, Ron Paul will be able to shut down the Fed by stamping copyright symbols on the dollar bill and then sending Bernanke a cease and desist letter.
It is a criminal offense:
“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.” 17 USC 506(d)
De jure illegal, but not de facto?
The excuse here is that the statement of copyright makes it a derivative work, which can be copyrighted.