Copyright Issues with the 'Black Hole' Image and Their Legal Implications

21 Pages Posted: 25 Sep 2019 Last revised: 4 Dec 2019

See all articles by Yahong Li

Yahong Li

The University of Hong Kong - Faculty of Law

Date Written: September 17, 2019

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 paper argues that the black hole image should be left in the public domain without copyright protection because: first, the image’s copyrightability and copyright ownership are too uncertain to warrant a legal protection, making fair use and compulsory licensing largely irrelevant; second, the image is a work of world significance that was created through broad international collaboration with substantial public funding, which has a strong implication for public interest in access of the work; and third, Creative Commons 4.0 Attribution license cannot guarantee public access because it can be changed to a more restrictive license. This paper concludes that only by leaving the black hole image in the public domain can copyright’s objective of increasing public access of creative works and promoting scientific progress be achieved.

Keywords: black hole image, copyright, originality, creative commons, public domain

JEL Classification: K

Suggested Citation

Li, Yahong, Copyright Issues with the 'Black Hole' Image and Their Legal Implications (September 17, 2019). University of Hong Kong Faculty of Law Research Paper No. 2019/099, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3455073 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3455073

Yahong Li (Contact Author)

The University of Hong Kong - Faculty of Law ( email )

Pokfulam Road
Hong Kong, Hong Kong
China

HOME PAGE: http://hub.hku.hk/rp/rp01260

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