Document Type


Publication Date



Suppose an entrepreneur wishes to create an interactive multimedia product on the theme of the Exploration of Space. The multimedia work would assemble components created specially for the product, and others drawn from preexisting works. The latter might include: Leonardo da Vinci drawings of aeronautical machines, archival photographs of early airplanes, excerpts from 19th and 20th century science-fiction novels, text and photos of newspaper accounts of space flights, NASA space maps, television news clips, excerpts of motion pictures and television series, and musical compositions and recordings. Elements specially created for the product might comprise the computer program users would employ to "navigate" through the information, animation of the still images, new text, images, and music.

Before undertaking to create and commercialize such a product, its producer needs to consider a variety of copyright questions. Some concern the compilation of the product; others the distribution of the product in CD-ROM copies, or over a network. In this discussion, I will confine myself to the problems surrounding the creation of the multimedia product. These spawn different analyses depending on whether the compiled elements are newly created for the multimedia product (I), or whether they are drawn from preexisting works (II). Within the category of preexisting works, some will be in the public domain, or subject to exemptions from copyright protection (IIA), while others will require the permission of their authors or other copyright holders before our entrepreneur may incorporate them into the multimedia product (IIB). Finally, because the elements of the product and its audience stretch beyond U.S. borders, it will be important to take into account international as well as domestic copyright norms governing all of the questions here envisioned.


Intellectual Property Law | Law