Published on 31 January 2020
Abstract: The release of the world’s first-ever black hole image generated an immediate copyright dispute and revealed multiple copyright issues that remain unsettled. This Article argues that the black hole image should be left in the public domain without copyright protection for the following reasons: First, the image’s copyrightability and copyright ownership are too uncertain to warrant legal protection, making fair use and compulsory licensing largely irrelevant; second, the image is a work of worldwide significance that was created through broad international collaboration with substantial public funding, which strongly implies a public interest in access to the work; and third, a Creative Commons 4.0 Attribution license cannot guarantee public access because it can be changed at any time to a more restrictive license. This Article concludes that only by leaving the black hole image in the public domain can copyright’s objective of increasing public access to creative works and promoting scientific progress be achieved.
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