Cool archive of NYC hip-hop posters from late 70s/early 80s. Reprinted without any permission from the poster designer(s), so far as I can tell. Why, that’s blatant COPYRIGHT INFRINGEMENT !!! Why, s/he’s a — a — a Pirate, that’s what. A Pirate and a Thief. Posting this archive, without seeking the copyright owner’s permission and perhaps paying a handsome licensing fee, why that’s like taking the lawnmower out of the garage of the poor hapless poster designer(s) or their great grandchildren or maybe their corporate assignees.
Luckily the US Copyright Office is looking into the problem of orphan works. Orphan works are those works that are copyrighted, but you can’t locate the copyright-holder to ask their permission to do something with the work.
Why is this a problem? Well, thanks to the 1976 Copyright Act (USC Title 17), all fixed works of original authorship are automatically copyrighted, without the copyright owner having to do anything (like putting a © symbol on the item). So, you know, that post-it note you left for your spouse/mate this morning — that’s protected by copyright! You “fixed” it by writing it down, and the threshold of “originality” is very low — so nobody better mess with your copyright by trying to reproduce, distribute, publicly perform or display, or derive any works from that post-it note, without your permission. And those hip-hop party flyers? They too were copyrighted upon fixation, and whether or not the creators felt the need for or intended to have criminal and civil penalties attached to their illicit reproduction. [See also US DOJ.] Illicit reproduction any time within 70 years after the original creator died, I might add.
Deep breath. The wicked foolishness of some laws just makes me kinda crazy. Sorry for the heavy sarcasm. Especially sorry for heaping scorn upon the value of the post-its and email jottings of the world, which are richly deserving of all the copyright protection that can be mustered for them. If we don’t copyright everything, then some iota of value might possibly escape exploitation! Oops. Sorry, slipped again. Sarcasm ranting hat officially OFF, and Serious Working hat, back on.