Israeli Court Says Course Ads Are Not Copyrightable; Aggregating Them Is Legal

from the makes-sense dept

Over at Eric Goldman’s blog, Israeli lawyer Yoram Lichtenstein has written up a discussion of two Israeli rulings concerning copyright on advertisements (Lichtenstein was a lawyer in the second case, so he’s not a neutral observer — though his writeup appears to be quite neutral, much more so than I would have expected). The first case, from a few years ago, involved a website that collected job ads from various sources, including various local newspapers. The newspapers sued, but the court noted that it wasn’t clear that the job ads were even covered by copyright — and even if they were, the copyright wouldn’t be held by the newspapers who were suing, but by the advertisers.

The more recent case delved deeper into that original question of whether or not ads are copyrightable. It involved a site, called Hug, that aggregated “a directory of leisure activities and courses” from a variety of different sources. Nine advertisers apparently sued the company for copyright infringement. Beyond wondering why advertisers would ever get pissed off at a site that would advertise them for free, and help drive more business to them, Hug also noted that it provided a lot more information than just what it pulled from elsewhere. But the key question was whether or not the information in the ads was covered by copyright at all.

Thankfully, the court said no (for the most part):

The court decided that the course listings lacked originality (or creativity); usually they include only “dry” data. The court emphasized that although previous decisions did not demand very much creativity, ads still need at least some creative value to become copyrightable. Thus, “the advertiser holds no rights in the content of the advertisement, in a manner that enables to prevent other billboards and index sites to publish the ad without her authorization” (my translation).

The court used, as an example to explain why the course descriptions were not copyrightable, a course description for sculpting sugar-figures for cakes. The text was (my translation, again): “Figure sculpturing workshop, consisting of two 5 hours encounters, each. The workshop emphasizes female and male proportions. First meeting shall include preparing the cake-base, and a winter male figure with proper clothes and accessories. On the second encounter we will prepare the female summer spouse, accessorized as well. At the conclusion of this fun activity each shall have the original couple s/he created.”

This seems mostly in line with US copyright law that does require some level of creativity above basic facts to qualify for copyright. At the very least, it’s good to see yet another smart copyright ruling in Israel.

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Comments on “Israeli Court Says Course Ads Are Not Copyrightable; Aggregating Them Is Legal”

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