Legal Question in Business Law in Pennsylvania

Copyright information

If I were to make a brochure to sell my product which promotes gun control and anti-violence, would it be permissable to list the names of famous people who have died due to such tragic incidents?

Asked on 7/27/99, 3:45 pm

1 Answer from Attorneys

Gerry Elman Elman Technology Law, P.C.

Re: Copyright information

In general, a "fact" cannot be copyrighted. So nobody could assert copyright to prevent an author from ascertaining certain facts, including who died from gunshot incidents, and then writing about it, as long as the author does not appropriate the copyrighted "expression" used by the source of the information.

Another factor to be considered are principles of law involving the "right of privacy" and, for famous people, the "right of publicity." Whether these rights are violated by a writing about gunshot deaths would depend on exactly what's said. In most instances I can imagine, I wouldn't think that the author would be violating any such rights. However, it might be wise to show your text to a lawyer before publishing it, if you have any questions in this regard.

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Answered on 7/29/99, 3:12 pm

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