1939 WPA Map of New Jersey


Staff member
Site Administrator
Jul 31, 2004
Ben's Branch, Stephen Creek
Yeah, that was my initial thought when I put it online, that it was created by the WPA - a public program - which would make it US Government Work and therefore public domain. So, I was surprised to see that "NJ Guild Assoc" copyright. But anyway, I see that "Government Work" actually means "work prepared by an officer or employee of the United States Government as part of that person’s official duties" which does not likely apply here. I doubt that using government money has any bearing on copyright in and of itself. For example, lots of arts organizations accept it and still retain intellectual property rights.

It sucks, but I'm just not comfortable leaving it online and definitely don't want to hire a lawyer to defend me in court where the result is still a cease and desist order. I have to take it as a simple risk/reward calculation where the "reward" is giving away free stuff and the "risk" is a legal hassle, attorney fees or worse.

Really, I'm not as worried about problems with the Government or the Guild Assoc as copyright trolls. There's an old thread where Ben posted the details of what they did to him. It was very intimidating - if I received a letter like that, I'd definitely want a lawyer on my side. I spend enough money just keeping the lights on at boydsmaps.com, I don't need that kind of problem!
  • Like
Reactions: bobpbx


Feb 8, 2022
What if some copyright troll contacts me with a demand for payment?
But there's simply no upside for me offering it on a free website, yet there's plenty of downside risk. I would rather err on the side of caution and just move on.

I suspected this is what you would say, and I do not blame you at all.

It's a whole topic unto itself, but this is illustrative of the "chilling effect" that copyright restrictions can have on the open exchange of information. Particularly the way our laws have been written, revised, and re-revised over the last century (mostly to protect special interests) and the resulting mess that makes it difficult to even ascertain with full confidence whether something is indeed still under copyright.
  • Like
Reactions: Boyd