Copyright and the Nuremberg Trials Documents

There’s an interesting discussion at LibraryLaw Blog (in response to a post at Dear Rich) about the copyright status of the transcripts of the Nuremberg Trials.

Dear Rich’s answer to whether excerpts from speeches of the court justices and witnesses can be reprinted? “The good news is that you can use the transcripts. The bad news is that we’re not 100% sure why.”

It turns out that the copyright status of testimony, given by individuals, as transcribed by court reporters, and later translated by government employees is murky. Peter Hirtle at LibraryLaw Blog adds additional analysis to Rich’s, all fascinating reading for IP law buffs.

Hirtle adds additional good news for those interested in the trials: “uncertainty over the copyright status has not stopped numerous publishers from reprinting the works, however, nor has it stopped the Library of Congress from digitizing and making available all 42 volumes in the Official Series.”

Likewise, at the Harvard Law School Library, our Historical Collections department is working on digitizing the English language portion of the one million pages of documents related to the Nuremberg Trials that we hold. Many of these documents are fragile, and the digitization project will make them even more widely available than they would be otherwise. Read more about the HLSL Nuremberg Trials Project.

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