Cory Doctorow has a great article over at The Guardian on how corporations are trying to exercise copyright over content long in the public domain.
FedFlix is a charitable project launched by Carl Malamud, a “rogue archivist” who raises funds to digitise and upload videos created at US government expense. Under US law, government creations are in the public domain and can be freely used by anyone, but the US government is remarkably lax about actually making its treasures available to the public that owns them.
Malamud’s group pays the fees associated with retrieving copies from the US government – sometimes buying high-priced DVDs that the government issues, other times paying to have unreleased videos retrieved from government archives – and posts them to YouTube, theInternet Archive and other video sites, so that anyone and everyone can see, download, and use them.
Malamud’s 146-page report from FedFlix to the Archivist of the United States documents claims that companies such as NBC Universal, al-Jazeera, and Discovery Communications have used ContentID to claim title to FedFlix videos on YouTube. Some music royalty collecting societies have claimed infringements in “silent movies”.