Intellectual property of public lectures
April 19, 2016 10:35 AM   Subscribe

Who owns the rights to a publicly delivered lecture? I came across this issue today at work and the case at hand was resolved to everyones satisfaction, but it is a question I have pondered for a while without a more general, good answer (so far I managed with individual arrangements but this may not be the best approach).

If a speaker (an academic, or sometimes retired politician) gives a lecture, that is held publicly, no admission fee charged, for either an honorarium or without, and s/he explicitely grants written permission to the hosting institution (not a university) who invited him/her and pays him or her, and organises the event, to produce a video (accessable through You Tube )and / or livestream, does this affect who is the "owner"?

Specifically if someone, eg a guest attending the public lecture, and not connected to either the speaker or hosting institution then, without asking permission, transcribed said lecture, translates it into another language and publishes it on their own website without acknowledging the hosting institution (who paid the speaker/arranged the event), is this a violation of intellectual property and if so, whose property?
What if the lecture was bootleg recorded and then put online/transcribed/published etc? to what extent does the host need to protect the intellectual property of the speaker?

You are not my lawyer, of course. I am basically interested to find out if it is worthwhile to get upset and lawyer up? or is there no case anyway? Any pointers to websites dealing with this issue are very welcome. The hosting instituion and venues for the lectures are in the EU, lectures by both EU and non-EU citizen.
posted by 15L06 to Law & Government (5 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
To answer your specific question, a guest attending the lecture who transcribes and translates the speech without authorization does violate the copyright in the lecture. It doesn't matter whether a recording of the speech was made public or bootlegged. The rights of copyright include the right to reproduce (transcribe) and translate, and the guest needs permission to do either.

It's impossible to say who owns the lecture--the speaker or the university (or a third party) might own the copyright in the lecture, depending on their relationship.

posted by benbenson at 11:54 AM on April 19, 2016

For slightly greater precision: In the US and, broadly speaking, the EU, a work must be "fixed" in "a tangible medium of expression" before it is eligible for copyright. A speech, in itself, is usually not fixed in a tangible medium. You need the simultaneous recording. Without that video being filmed (or other fixing), the guest is free to transcribe away and translate, just as I'd be free to write down and translate something someone said to me in conversation.
posted by praemunire at 1:30 PM on April 19, 2016

Usually, whoever wrote the lecture is the rights holder. Unless that person was work for hire--like a speechwriter for a company president--the author is the owner. Public ally delivered or privately delivered doesn't have anything to do with copyright.
The audience member can transcribe and use the transcription for personal use, but not for sale or profit. I'd get permission from the person who gave the lecture.
posted by Ideefixe at 1:39 PM on April 19, 2016 [1 favorite]

Thank you for the replies so far.
I am worried most if we, as the hosting institution, have an obligation to the speaker we engage to ensure no one else uses the lecture to make profit without consent, if that makes sense?
The relationship between us and the speaker is always set in writing, what we may or may not do with the lecture and the resulting video is agreed beforehand, livestream done only with permission. Sometimes we also request permission to transcribe and publish, but this is always agreed prior to the event in writing.

We do not permit private recordings, videos, etc but if someone has a hidden recording device or transcribes from a video from our wesite or you tube channel we will not know. I do ask people obviously filming with their smart phone to stop.

Could a speaker (in theory) claim damages from us for not preventing someone in the live audience or watching our you tube or livestream from transcribing and publishing? No one did so far or threatens to, I just worry it could happen and whether we should in fact protect ourselves, eg. put up a notice up on our you tube channel and livestream.
Sorry for thread sitting, jst felt I was not very clear what my question is.
posted by 15L06 at 11:06 AM on April 20, 2016

I was not very clear what my question is.

Ask the attorney who prepares the agreements between your employer and the speakers. You need more advice than you can get here.

make profit without consent

Profit has nothing to do with it.

claim damages from us for not preventing someone in the live audience ... from transcribing

How could you prevent an audience member from taking notes? Anyway, if you want protection from wacky claims like that one, you can have your attorney put it in the agreement.
posted by JimN2TAW at 2:35 PM on April 21, 2016

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