New York Times and 148-year copyrights

In conjunction with its endorsement of Senator Obama for President, today’s New York Times website has a great graphic illustrating its endorsements since 1860, alongside the winners for each year.  For example, in 1888, the Times endorsed Grover Cleveland, who was defeated by Benjamin Harrison.  Four years later, the Times again endorsed Cleveland, who won.  The graphic also allows you to pull up the original published endorsements.  Here’s an excerpt from the Times’ 1860 endorsement of Abraham Lincoln:

As a historical document, this is fascinating.  But note the claim of copyright at the bottom, asserting copyright to something published in 1860.  Say what!?  The Times needs to read copyright laws a little more closely before asserting copyright to an editorial published 148 years ago.  Even with Congress’ expansion of copyright terms, an editorial published in 1860 is not still copyrighted.  (For more “recent” examples, see Lincoln’s 1864 endorsement, Grant’s 1868 endorsement, etc., also containing copyright notices).

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