Referring to a blog entry about the relationship between US copyright law and those who claim to channel divine writings.
Interesting copyright fact of the day, from The Patry Copyright Blog. You have
to be a human to copyright something.
For starters, the Copyright Office sensibly interprets the Act as requiring
human authorship. If, for example, a claim is submitted by a human being who
claims to be a medium for the creations of an otherwordly being, the claim is
invalid both because the otherwordly being is not a human and because the
claimant is not an author, but is instead merely a scribe. See Oliver
v. St. Germain Foundation, 209 F. Supp. 53 (S.D.N.Y. 1913), aff'd, 219 F. 178
(2d Cir. 1914). An English judge later felt the same way, see Cummins v. Bond
, (1927) 1 Ch. 167, in which the plaintiff medium claimed rights in
"automatic writing'' from a 1900-year-old spirit. The court held that
''authorship and copyright rest with some one already domiciled on the other
side of the inevitable river,'' id. at 175.
Does this mean that Scientology can't claim copyright on some of their stuff?
"already domiciled on the other side of the inevitable river." is a beautiful
turn of phrase.
Oh, now that I get to the end of the blog entry, he even mentions
Scientology. They are in the clear, because they just claim divine/alien
inspiration for their texts, not that they were actually written by a divine
So, I guess this could make the Scientology writings derivative of the work of
a divine other, but since only that other would have standing to bring an
infringement suit, it's not really an issue. Unless the aliens decide they need
to make a quick buck off the US legal system.