In a strange update to this story, government files obtained through FOIA (Freedom of Information Act) have been claimed to be copyrighted.
Jason Colavito notes it in this piece:
the Black Vault database of Project Blue Book was taken down after Ancestry.com asserted that it owns the copyright (!) to the Air Force’s UFO files, an impossibility since by law United States government files cannot be copyrighted. Fortunately, the searchable Project Blue Book Archive is still up and running (at least until Ancestry.com tells them they own government records, too).
The Project BlueBook files, however, are still available to the public through official sites, just not sorted in the same way. A commenter on Colavito’s post gives these links:
John Greenewald, owner of The Black Vault, has sent out this statement:
January 29th, 2015 – It is with great frustration to announce, that Ancestry.com, and their subsidiary Fold3, has laid down a claim to copyright on the Project Blue Book material – which has long been labeled as “public domain” by the National Archives & Records Administration (NARA). Ancestry.com is claiming ownership to the digital version of this material – despite me having records that Fold3 doesn’t even have in their archive and I received under the FOIA starting back in 1996. They simply claimed it was 100% theirs and I was forced to remove it.
Rather strange indeed. Greenewald said “they offered I become a member of their affiliate program – and offer a link to them in exchange for a portion of sales generated. ie: You have to sign up with them, pay a membership, and they give me a percentage.” He declined. Sounds like a low blow and is another example of bigger companies trampling over the smaller independent people. Or perhaps something else is going on? It’s not clear what the motivation is for this except maybe money.