Collectible email?

I read an AP story on Monday about the guy who purchased Neil Armstrong’s hair from the barber. It described his business of collecting and trading in the hair and other memorabilia of celebrities. The following paragraph was towards the end of the article:

Can anyone explain how one purchases an e-mail message? I suppose you could print it out and sell the page, but that’s not unique. Perhaps the printed copy was autographed by former president Clinton?

If Clinton sent the e-mail as president and not privately, it would be archived at the Clinton Presidential Library. Anybody could get a copy, I’d think.

The word is that it’s the only e-mail that Clinton sent by his own hand during his presidency.

E-mail messages are electronic computer files, not paper documents, so what could this guy have purchased that would be worth anything to a collector?

Autographed by John Glenn would make more sense, as he was the one who received it. The problem is in theory Glenn could autograph as many copies as he wanted.

Could he not have purchased the copyright?

Perhaps he bought the copyright?

Or perhaps he’s just an idiot. I mean, he bought illegal hair for god’s sake.

If the e-mail was sent over a White House e-mail account, and not a private e-mail account, it would be government property in the public domain. By law, the federal government cannot hold copyrights on its own behalf.

So all e-mails sent from the governnment are public domain? Gotta suck to be the president then if private communication is impossible.

If the president wants to set up a private Internet account, paid for out of his own pocket, and used in the private residential quarters of the White House, those communications would be his own private property.

So the president couldn’t just order private Internet communications? I’d think if the President ordered private Internet communications wiith me, the Secret Service would be OK with that. Hell, he’s the president. He could order Secret Service agents to knock at my door, and I’d just use my PGP passphrase to decode the message. He could just order the Secret Service to fly me to anyplace on the planet where he was. The President can do that.

The president can request secure Internet communication through official government lines. But the communications would then belong to the government, not to the president.

Follow up: I emailed the collector mentioned in that article. He replied that he has “the computer on which clinton sent the email, with the digital message still on it. It is photo and document verified.”

Reminds me of a comic book illustrator who wondered who would pay for original art work of his now it was all done on PC, you couldn’t really print off a copy and expect someone to cherish it as unique.