Houston, TX asked in Copyright, Civil Rights, Gov & Administrative Law and Intellectual Property for Texas

Q: Would it be illegal to read declassified files, similar to an audio book to make them more accessible to the public?

I ask because on some documents, especially recordings, you cant quote certain individuals, such as Linden B. Johnson because at the time of the recording he is a private citizen since hes no longer in office, either him or his family have copyrighted all recordings where he wasnt a public servant. On the .gov website it says you cannot quote or site him because of the copyrighted speech but because it is declassified you are able to listen. If you need more info to answer my question just let me know. My goal is to just go page by page reading the documents so those who are curious can listen to them. Also would monetization bring any legal trouble? if it would im fine doing it for free.

1 Lawyer Answer
James L. Arrasmith
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  • Civil Rights Lawyer
  • Sacramento, CA

A: It is generally not illegal to read declassified files aloud, as long as you are not violating any copyright laws or other legal restrictions. However, there may be certain limitations or restrictions on the use of declassified files, depending on the specific documents and the laws and regulations that govern them.

If you are reading declassified files that contain copyrighted material, such as recordings of private citizens, you may need to obtain permission from the copyright holder before using or distributing the material. Additionally, there may be other legal restrictions on the use of declassified files, such as restrictions on the disclosure of classified information or the protection of personal privacy.

It is important to review the specific laws and regulations that apply to the declassified files you are working with, and to consult with an attorney or legal expert if you have any questions or concerns about your use of the material. By doing so, you can ensure that you are in compliance with all applicable laws and regulations, and that you are providing a valuable service to the public in making these documents more accessible.

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