US government sends itself a takedown notice over JFK documentary: you decide what to do!

Rogue archivist Carl Malamud sez,

One agency of the federal government has issued a takedown notice to another agency of the federal government, which in turn demanded that we remove a film from the Internet. Not knowing what to do, I have appealed for your help.

I hereby bring this plea before the Court of Appeals for Wonderful Things, appealing to a jury of my peers, all happy mutants, for their verdict. Here are the facts of my case:

    * After the assassination of of John F. Kennedy on December 23, 1963, the United States Information Agency (USIA), with the assistance of citizen Gregory Peck, produced a 90-minute film called John F. Kennedy: Years of Lightning, Day of Drums.

    * The film was shown overseas to rave reviews. The Daily Mirror of Manila described it as a "work of art." The Times of India said "Each and every shot of this one and a half hour long film is so effective and heart touching that the spectators remain spellbound to the last minute." The Star of Johannesburg said "This film makes one want to be an American."

    * The USIA was prohibited by law from distributing films in the United States as it was then illegal for the government to propagate domestic propaganda.

* Senator George McGovern, with bipartisan support, introduced Senate Joint Resolution 106, authorizing the USIA to sell six master copies of the film to the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, so that "the people of the United States should not be denied an opportunity to see the film." On October 7, 1965, the House of Representatives joined the Senate in overwhelmingly approving the resolution.

* Public Law 85-874 established the National Center for the Performing Arts in 1958. In 1964, Public Law 88-260 established the performing arts center as a living memorial to honor the late president by changing the name of the center to the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts.

* The Kennedy Center relies heavily on private donations, but also receives federal funding. H.R. 4097, for example, authorized $72 million for fiscal years 2013 and 2014. We strongly support increased funding for the Kenendy Center, but submit to the jury that removing a 50-year-old, federally-funded film from the Internet will make a marked difference in their bottom line.

* On November 2, 2007, Public.Resource.Org entered into a joint venture with the National Technical Information Service, an agency of the Department of Commerce. Under this agreement, NTIS sent us video tapes. We paid a "pull fee" for each shipment, and paid for shipping both ways. We digitized all the videotapes, returned them to NTIS along with a disk drive with a digitized version of each video. Under this agreement, Public.Resource.Org digitized over 1,000 VHS, Umatic, and Betacam tapes at no charge to the government.

* On June 5, 2009, Public.Resource.Org did upload the film to YouTube, where it has received 11,247 views. On June 4, 2009, Public.Resource.Org did upload the film to the Internet Archive, where it has received 101,661 views.

* On April 25, 2013, the Associate Director of NTIS did write to Public.Resource.Org to deliver this message: "It appears that NTIS mistakenly forwarded to you the following video title in the content that was subsequently digitized by Public Resources. According to the general counsel's office at the Kennedy Center, exclusive rights on this title for distribution is held by the John f. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. The NTIS bibliographic record indicates that the film is copyrighted. NTIS will be removing this video from the NTIS collection, and I request that you do the same."

* In his inaugural address, President Kennedy said: "Let all our neighbors know that we shall join with them to oppose aggression or subversion anywhere in the Americas."

I leave this decision up to the court. If a jury of happy mutants decides by rough consensus that we should remove this video from the Internet, we will do so. Otherwise, we will notify the Kennedy Center and NTIS that we respectfully decline unless so ordered by those with authority to do so.