Copyright Violations

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I do not think there are any Copyright Violations in the article on Philip Goldberg

On November 18, 2008 Tagishsimon placed a copyright violation tag on the Philip Goldberg article.

I do not think there are any copyright violations in the article on Philip Goldberg.

Let's just go through the quotations in the article one by one and see if any of them are copyright violations.

Use of Quotations

First a word about quotations in general and Wikipedia's policy about the use of quotations. Quotations should meet four criteria: First they must be sourced., Second, editors should try to work quotations into the body of the article, rather than in a stand-alone quote section, Third, while quotations are an indispensable part of Wikipedia, try not to overuse them, Fourth, there is normally no need to put quotations in italics unless the material would otherwise call for italics.

I think that the use of quotations in the Goldberg article meet the four criteria and they "illuminate the meaning to support the arguments of the work in which it is being quoted." Other editors may differ on criteria 3 but unless there is an objective way to measure "overuse", criteria 3 will be a matter of writing style or opinion.

Categories of Quotations used in the article

Now we will move on to the issue of whether the use of quotations in the Philip Goldberg article violates copyright which was the tag placed on the article.

First every quotation used in the article will fit into one of three categories:

  • Statements made by US Ambassador Philip Goldberg in his capacity as an Appointed Official of the US Federal Government
  • Statements made by other Officials of the US Federal Government
  • Statements made by others

Note: I am excluding from consideration single words of short phrases in quotes such as "meddling," "reestablish a democratic government in the country," "undesirable person," "spying incident," and "burned tires, threw dynamite and fired pepper spray" as these short phrases are obviously Fair Use.

Statements made by US Ambassador Philip Goldberg in his capacity as an Appointed Official of the US Federal Government

All works by the United States (federal) government are in the public domain. This is true whether the work is published or unpublished. A work is a US government work if it was prepared by an officer or employee of the federal government as part of that person's office duties. "Officer" includes all elected and appointed officials of all branches of the US government - for example,, the president, members of Congress, cabinet members, and judges, as well as lower-level US government officials and members of the federal bureaucracy.[1]

Ambassador Philip Goldberg is an official of the US federal government. Anything he says or writes as part of his official duties in his capacity as an official of the US federal government becomes part of public domain including what he says or writes in speeches, press releases, newspaper stories, or interviews.

These include the following quotations from Mr. Goldberg during his tenure as Ambassador to Bolivia that are used in his Wikipedia article:

  • Goldberg said "it is very important that the new government succeeds."[2]
  • Goldberg said the process was "well under way" and that "we are very active in trying to reach a resolution of the final-status decision."[3]
  • "Nobody at the embassy has ever asked American citizens to participate in intelligence activities here," said U.S. Ambassador Goldberg.[4] "But I want to say that I greatly regret the incident that was made known this weekend."[4]
  • "What happened was that one of our security officers went to brief Peace Corps workers on security [measures] in Bolivia. During the course of that briefing he started going into areas that are ordinarily reserved for direct American employees—which the Peace Corps are not—basically telling them to be careful about third country people who might want to take advantage of them," said Goldberg.[5] " He should not have gone over that ground, but it was not a request for them to do anything. And this has been blown up way out of proportion."[5]
  • "The situation in Bolivia had deteriorated to the point of confrontation. And I think it became very easy to blame the United States for that," said Goldberg,[5] going on to claim "It was part of the general policy of the Bolivian government for Morales to attack the United States."[5]

All of these statements by Mr. Goldberg were made while he was a member of the State Department as part of his job and as such they are in the public domain and so their use cannot be copyright violation. Note also that the criteria of substantiality or size of the quote is a criteria that is use for Fair Use determination. That criteria does not apply to quotations that meet the requirements for Public Domain.

Statements made by other Officials of the US Federal Government

The same rationale that applied to Goldberg's quotes applies to other statements made by US government officials in their official capacity including the Press Secretary for the State Department, the President, the Deputy Assistant Secretary of State, and other unamed spokespersons for the Department of State or the United States Peace Corps. Note that in all these cases it is not a matter of applying the four criteria for Fair Use including substantiallity of the excerpt. Under the rule that all works by the United States (federal) government are in the public domain we could use as large an excerpt as we wanted. The key is that the work was created by a US government official. The quotations in the article on Philip Goldberg that fall under this category are the following:

  • [State Department spokesman Tom Casey strongly rejected Morales' charges.[6]] "There is absolutely no truth to any allegation that the U.S. is using its aid funds to try and influence the political process, or in any way undermine the government there," Casey said.[6]
  • [Peace Corps Deputy Director for Bolivia Doreen Salazar was present at the meeting and found the comments so out of line that she interrupted the briefing to clarify that volunteers did not have to follow the embassy's instructions and Salazar protested directly to the embassy.[7]] "We made it clear to the embassy that this was an inappropriate request, and they agreed."[7]
  • [US Embassy Security Officer Vincent Cooper, in a routine safety briefing, asked the student] "If you should encounter any Venezuelans or Cubans in the field—doctors, field workers, etc.—the embassy would like you to report their names and something like where they’re located to the embassy."[8]
  • [The United States Peace Corps issued a press release reiterating that no Peace Corps volunteers had participated in intelligence activities and that it remained Peace Corps policy that there was an absolute separation between] "any official duties pertaining to U.S. foreign policy, including the reality or the appearance of involvement in intelligence related activities."[9] The Press Release added that "Consistent with the policy of every administration since 1961, Director Ron Tschetter, himself a former Volunteer in India (1966-1968), has been very clear in re-affirming this long standing policy and, once again, stressing that Peace Corps Volunteers work on community service and nothing else."[9]
  • "In response to the unwarranted action and in accordance with the Vienna Convention, we have officially informed the government of Bolivia of our decision to declare Ambassador Gustavo Guzman persona non grata," a State Department spokesperson said.[10]
  • "This was not hasty decision [sic]," said State Department spokesman David Johnson.[11] "Bolivia remains a major narcotics-producing country and its official policies and actions have caused a significant deterioration in its cooperation with the United States."[11]
  • [Bush announced on October 16 as he signed the Andean Trade Preference Act Extension that] "Bolivia has failed to cooperate with the United States on important efforts to fight drug trafficking. So, sadly, I have proposed to suspend Bolivia's trade preferences until it fulfills its obligations."[12] However officials in Bolivia see the trade suspension as part of an escalating feud between the United States and Bolivia.[13]
  • "It was regrettable that we had to suspend Bolivia," said US deputy assistant secretary of state Christopher J. McMullen.[13] "This is going to be a major blow, I think, for Bolivia in terms of losing these jobs.[13]

All of these statements are by Officials of the US government as part of their jobs and as such they are in the public domain and so their use cannot be copyright violation. Again note also that the criteria of substantiality or size of the quote is a criteria that is use for Fair Use determination. That criteria does not apply to quotations that meet the requirements for Public Domain.

Statements made by others

This final category are quotations that do not fall into the other two categories i.e. statements made by non-US government officials. The rationale for using these excerpts relies on the traditional four criteria for Fair Use. Wikipedia Policy is that Brief quotations of copyrighted text may be used to illustrate a point, establish context, or attribute a point of view or idea. Copyrighted text must be attributed and used verbatim. Any alterations must be clearly marked, i.e. [brackets] for added text, an ellipsis (...) for removed text, and emphasis noted after the quotation as "(emphasis added)" or "(emphasis in the original)". Extensive quotation of copyrighted text is prohibited.

The question then comes down to what is brief. My contention is that the following quotations used in the Philip Goldberg article, each coming from a separate source, are brief and thus meet the Fair Use criteria:

  • "I regret that some ambassadors are getting involved in politics and criticizing the country," said Morales.[6]
  • "My ministers here are subjected to hours and hours of controls at the airport," Morales said.[14]
  • "There's a sense that the whole relationship [with Bolivia] has been kind of poisoned," says Latin America expert Michael Shifter.[15]
  • [The Telegraph reported on September 12, 2008 that Goldberg had infuriated Morales the previous week when Goldberg] "met with Ruben Costas, the governor of Bolivia's richest province, that of Santa Cruz, which wants autonomy and has threatened secession."[16] and "He is conspiring against democracy and seeking the division of Bolivia," said Morales.[16] "Without fear of the empire, I declare Mr Goldberg, the US ambassador, 'persona non grata."[16]
  • "The message received, since it occurred amid the escalation in violence, that message was distorted in the perception of many Bolivians," said Adam Isacson of the Washington-based foreign policy think-tank Center for International Policy.[17] "It may have been seen as an approval of the acts of violence."[17]
  • "Generally, it’s a bad idea to tie foreign aid programs that are in the American interest to the behavior of foreign governments," wrote the Times.[18] "Decertifying unhelpful countries in the drug wars always seemed particularly wrongheaded, a surefire way to anger allies and undermine support for Washington’s objectives in Latin America."[18]
  • "You have to say that the traditional relationship that Bolivia had with the United States . . . has come to an end. I believe this is the worst moment for the relations between the United States and the entire world. The worst moment," said Juan Ramón Quintana, Bolivia's minister of the presidency.[13]

All of these statements meet Wikipedia's criteria for Fair Use and they all come from different sources so there is no overuse of the same source.


  1. Public Domain: How to Find and Use Copyright-Free Writings, Music, Art & More By Stephen Fishman. Published by Nolo, 2008. ISBN 1413308589, 9781413308587. page 42.
  2. The Globe and Mail. "Former rebel commander becomes Kosovo PM" December 3, 2004.
  3. Radio Free Europe. "Kosovo: U.S. Official Expresses Hope For Final-Status Progress" by Arbana Vidishiqi. February 6, 2006
  4. 4.0 4.1 Associated Press. "Morales Accuses US Official of Spying" by Alvaro Zuazo. February 11, 2008.
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 5.3 Newsweek Magazine. "Grandstanding" by Mac Margolis. September 20, 2008.
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 Reuters. "Bolivia accuses U.S. of funding Morales opponents" by Eduardo Garcia. August 29, 2007.
  7. 7.0 7.1 ABC News. "Exclusive: Peace Corps, Fulbright Scholar Asked to 'Spy' on Cubans, Venezuelans" by Jean Friedman-Rudovsky. February 8, 2008.
  8. US Embassy in Bolivia Tells Fulbright Scholar and Peace Corps Volunteers to Spy on Venezuelans and Cubans in Bolivia, Democracy Now!, 11 February 2008.
  9. 9.0 9.1 Peace Corps Press Release. "Full Statement from the Peace Corps" February 8, 2008. An archival copy of the Press release is available here. Note: The information from this source is a product of an agency of the US Federal government is not subject to Fair Use restrictions as it is in the public domain.
  10. USA Today. "U.S. expels Bolivian ambassador in tit-for-tat" September 11, 2008.
  11. 11.0 11.1 Associated Press. "US puts Bolivia on drugs blacklist" by Matthew Lee. September 17, 2008.
  12. White House. "President Bush Signs H.R. 7222, the Andean Trade Preference Act Extension" October 16, 2008.
  13. 13.0 13.1 13.2 13.3 Washington Post. "U.S. Trade Move Shakes Bolivia" by Joshua Partlow. October 19, 2008.
  14. Seattle Times. "Morales says U.N. ought to consider move" September 27, 2007.
  15. International Herald Trbune. "U.S. forced to confront its Bolivian problem" by Janine Zacharia. July 1, 2008.
  16. 16.0 16.1 16.2 Telegraph. "Bolivia expels US ambassador Philip Goldberg" by Jeremy McDermott. September 12, 2008.
  17. 17.0 17.1 CNN "U.S. envoy: I didn't incite Bolivian violence" Deptember 18, 2008.
  18. 18.0 18.1 New York Times. "Playing Into Mr. Morales’s Hands" October 6, 2008.


I think that every quotation used in the Philip Goldberg article falls either into the category of Public Domain or Fair Use and therefor the copyright violation tag should be removed from the article.

There may be some issues with the style of writing employed. There may be some issues with the use of citations for every sentence in the article. These are different issues that I will be glad to discuss. Right now we are discussing the copyright violation tag which I have addressed in this post.

I will be addressing the copyright violation issues on the Rick Benjamin article as soon as possible. The Esperanza Spalding article does need some work that I will get to in a few days.

Best regards,