posted on Sep, 8 2012 @ 06:23 AM
In order for a work to be copyrightable, it has to be set in a fixed medium, such as written down, recorded, photographed, etc. Also, any text
produced by the federal government, for the most part, is automatically part of the public domain. Given that:
* If the speech was written down and read verbatim, it is protected by copyright because it was written down.
* If the speech was written down and the speaker goes off script, than those parts of the speech would not be protected because speech is not a fixed
* The impromptu speech is recorded or otherwise set in a fixed medium, than it does become copyrightable.
* If the speaker is a federal employee, than his or her speeches, regardless of being in a fixed medium, probably are in the public domain and so not
An example of a speaker whose estate has gone to great lengths to protect his copyright is Martin Luther King's. No one can freely reproduce his
speeches without getting permission from his estate. But there is a cottage industry of folks who attempt to recreate his impromptu speeches from
memory and distribute them precisely because they were never in a fixed medium and so are not copyrightable.