Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Can I Reproduce Someone's Letter on YouTube?

Dear Rich: Is it even possible for someone to copyright a written letter (written in 1998) of an UNKNOWN author? If not, and that written letter is incorporated into a Powerpoint that IS copyrighted, can that slide containing the non-copyrighted letter be used in a YouTube video where the letter is analyzed and discussed? This is a somewhat serious matter. Sorry for the complexity of the question. It's not as complex as you might think. As we stated before, only an author (or in some cases, an author's employer) can initially claim copyright to a letter. If the unknown letter writer someday steps forward, he or she can stop reproduction in the PowerPoint and YouTube video. The PowerPoint author can't stop the YouTube user from reproducing the text of the letter -- only the letter writer can do that.