UK Court Says Sports Schedules Can Be Covered By Copyright
from the copyrighting-facts dept
While in the US you can’t copyright facts, elsewhere, it’s not always so direct. Over in Europe, they’ve long had a database right on the collections of factual information — despite the evidence that these do a lot more harm than good. This has been known for many years, but still Europe lets people copyright collections of data. While the US has rejected the idea that “sweat of the brow” gives you a copyright (instead it needs to be original work), Europe is a bit more open to this. Of course, that leads to some absolutely ridiculous results.
Copycense points us to the news that a UK court has now said that football schedules are covered by copyright. Yes, you read that right. The dates and times of a football match are covered by copyright, and if a news outlet wants to list the schedule… they have to pay up.
Amusingly, the court tries to pretend that this is more than just “sweat of the brow”:
“The process of preparing fixture lists involves very significant labor and skill in satisfying the multitude of often competing requirements of those involved,” Judge Christopher Floyd said. “(It is) not mere sweat of the brow, by which I mean the application of rigid criteria to the processing of data. The quality of the solution depends in part on the skill of those involved.”
But that seems ridiculous no matter how you look at it. The end result is purely factual information, and preventing people from reporting on basic factual information seems like a huge restriction on basic speech and the press. Now, the UK may not recognize freedom of expression as being as big a deal as it is in the US, but it’s hard to justify telling people they can’t report when a football match is happening because they haven’t paid up.