By now you have likely seen this photo of Barack Obama allegedly skeet shooting. I say "allegedly" because the picture seems off somehow -- the manner in which the gun is being held, the angle at which it is pointed, among other things -- and the fact that we know that Obama was golfing on the date of the photo and only flew up to Camp David late in the day. It seems difficult to reconcile dates and times that were released to the public six months ago with what we are being told now.
But that isn't the big deal in my book.
Rather, the problem is that the Obama Administration has released the photo with the following disclaimer.
This official White House photograph is being made available only for publication by news organizations and/or for personal use printing by the subject(s) of the photograph. The photograph may not be manipulated in any way and may not be used in commercial or political materials, advertisements, emails, products, promotions that in any way suggests approval or endorsement of the President, the First Family, or the White House.
Minor detail -- a part of that directive exceeds the authority of the White House under federal copyright law. They cannot tell us that the photo may not be manipulated in any way because a photo produced by a federal employee as a part of their official duties is considered to be copyright free and may be used without restriction by the public at large.
A United States government work is prepared by an officer or employee of the United States government as part of that person's official duties.
It is not subject to copyright in the United States and there are no copyright restrictions on reproduction, derivative works, distribution, performance, or display of the work. Anyone may, without restriction under U.S. copyright laws:
- reproduce the work in print or digital form;
- create derivative works;
- perform the work publicly;
- display the work;
- distribute copies or digitally transfer the work to the public by sale or other transfer of ownership, or by rental, lease, or lending.
Got that -- anyone may create a derivative work without restriction. That includes manipulating the photo, which is the creation of a derivative work! Indeed, it is not only copyright law that would make the Administration's diktat an example of overreach -- the First Amendment right to engage in satirical speech about public figures would come into play as well.
So having presented us with a questionable photo, the regime has gone even further in raising questions by attempting to place an illegal restriction on the use of the photo. That does make one wonder why -- including question whether or not the image released had itself been manipulated before its release to the public.