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Author Topic: claimant/author in transcription of public domain speeches  (Read 537 times)

Seva

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I have transcribed the public domain recordings of the speeches of a famous speaker in India. The speeches have been transcribed and published previously by an earlier team, but as the recordings are of poor sound quality, the team could not catch many words as a result of which the collected transcriptions they published were of poor quality-- missing many words and containing many erroneous words. That book was copyright registered. I have now listened to the recordings myself and transcribed the collected speeches again. The transcriptions I have done, although of the same speeches, are quite different from the earlier book as I have been able to catch the many words missing from the earlier publication, and also I have caught the correct word in most all the places where the original team had transcribed wrong terms. I am not writing any commentary. All the words of the text I will publish are the words of the speaker himself. But as the sound recordings were very poor, it was a huge job to transcribe the speeches correctly and accurately, including all the words. This required listening to each speech around 20 times in order to gradually make out all the words.

My questions:
1. The speaker, who has since deceased, is obviously the author of the spoken speeches. Who is the author of the book? The words printed are not my words, as I have simply transcribed what he spoke. But it has taken tremendous work on my part to transcribe the speeches. Does this make me the author of the current book? Or would I be called instead the editor? The US Copyright Office eCO standard application asks who the author is.

2. I am filing the application for the copyright registration. Does that make me the claimant?
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artchain

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Re: claimant/author in transcription of public domain speeches
« Reply #1 on: 11-21-17 at 08:32 pm »

Interesting question.

Copyright law in the United States protects original works of authorship.  However, your intent is to produce a literal and exact transcription of the speaker's words.  While this involves a great deal of work on your part, I don't believe it is an original work.

Therefore, in my opinion, the book would not qualify for copyright protection.

See Walter v. Lane, App.

https://books.google.com/books?id=sC0tAQAAMAAJ&pg=PA761&lpg=PA761&dq=transcribe+a+speech+copyright&source=bl&ots=t6W-zHtpt2&sig=0ZOxAQcOEbmhR0nAfg_JJHjDTW8&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwjA7vbL69DXAhUEjFQKHb9bDL8Q6AEIcTAH#v=onepage&q=transcribe%20a%20speech%20copyright&f=false

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Seva

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Re: claimant/author in transcription of public domain speeches
« Reply #2 on: 11-22-17 at 07:37 pm »

It is widely recognized that the original transcription was poorly done, and since then multiple teams have attempted the task again without success. Our team is the first to be able to capture virtually all the words and create a work which the world can read with the confidence that these are the actual words the speaker spoke. When we publish this transcription, there are various teams who will be interested in copying and reprinting in their own name and taking credit for having done the transcription. Is there no way to protect the work we have done? Isn't a copyright registration the proper channel for protecting the transcription. Given the difficulty involved in this job and that no one has been able to do it in 70 years despite many attempts, we consider this an original work.
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artchain

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Re: claimant/author in transcription of public domain speeches
« Reply #3 on: 11-22-17 at 11:56 pm »

The amount of work involved has absolutely no bearing on whether copyright protection applies. 

There are many works that require enormous effort to compile, but because they do not exhibit original creativity, are not protected by copyright.

So no, in my opinion your work is not eligible for copyright protection, and I know of no other means to protect it.

Remember, you are not the author - all you have done is transcribe the words. 
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Rabid Levity

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Re: claimant/author in transcription of public domain speeches
« Reply #4 on: 11-23-17 at 12:19 am »

I am by no means an expert in copyright law, just an IP attorney mainly focused on patent law.  That said, I did study copyright in school and continue to try to keep up on it as much as I can.  Artchain's thinking comports with everything I know about copyright law. 

Offhand, I do not know how you can protect what you have accomplished.  You can obviously claim that you have copyright protection, as did that prior faulty transcriptionist - but if it came down to brass tacks I do not I think that claim would be a valid copyright claim.  Not in the US, anyway.  I think you should speak with an IP attorney, in detail, and go over any possibilities.  I just do not know what they may be.

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jothya

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Re: claimant/author in transcription of public domain speeches
« Reply #5 on: 12-08-17 at 10:56 am »

Since you put forth a lot of work to properly transcribe the speeches, which everyone agrees is not copyrightable, why not go through the speeches and annotate them with context, history, other useful content to put the speeches into today's context.  This annotated work should be copyrightable and would offer some additional benefit to a purchasing-reader over some later copy of your transcription.
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Tobmapsatonmi

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Re: claimant/author in transcription of public domain speeches
« Reply #6 on: 12-08-17 at 11:56 am »

Since you put forth a lot of work to properly transcribe the speeches, which everyone agrees is not copyrightable, why not go through the speeches and annotate them with context, history, other useful content to put the speeches into today's context.  This annotated work should be copyrightable and would offer some additional benefit to a purchasing-reader over some later copy of your transcription.


Very good point here.
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