German High Court Says That TV Schedule Info Is Covered By Copyright; TV Listings Sites Have To Pay

from the copyrighting-facts? dept

I still can't comprehend arguments in favor of allowing copyrights on facts. However, over in Europe they do allow copyrighting of facts if they're in a database, using so-called database rights. Of course, there's a big problem with such things. Contrary to the claim that database rights encourage a bigger database industry, the evidence (just like copyright and patents) points out that the opposite is true. And yet, Europe keeps believing in database rights. points us to a recent High Court ruling in Germany claiming that TV listings are covered by copyright and thus websites that display the factual information of what the TV schedule is have to pay up. In other words, it's going to become harder to find out what time shows are on TV, meaning that fewer people will watch TV. How does this help anyone?
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Filed Under: copyright, germany, tv listings

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  1. icon
    Mike Masnick (profile), 22 Dec 2009 @ 10:21pm

    Re: perhaps...

    Would it be the same thing if the site contacted each broadcaster themselves and collected information, and published it that way?

    Not necessarily. It does depend on the specific laws. Some do say independent collection of the same data is allowed, others aren't so fond of it. But, yes, that could make a difference.

    It would appear that these websites are taking informtion from another site and republishing it. I can see where that would run into a copyright issue, not for the material itself, but rather for the collection of material being republished.

    Again, that depends on where you are and if you have a database right. The US has explicitly rejected such things, and Europe has not. However, as pointed out in the post, studies have shown that contrary to the claims of those supporting such rights, database industries tend to be smaller in areas where such a right exists -- and there is no evidence of increased database output when such laws are strengthened (there is *some* initial increased investment soon after such laws are passed, but the end result is not seen in the output).

    What is on TV is a fact, but collecting those facts into one place isn't just a "fact", is would at some point become an actual product of value.

    Copyright is not designed to cover "products of value." They are designed to promote progress, and, as such are only designed to protect new creative works.

    Otherwise, it could be said that a school textbook should be free, because it contains nothing but knowledge that already exists. Yet textbooks are copyright (the presentation and product, not facts contained within).

    Yes, it's the overall presentation, but it's the creativity within that presentation, not the specific facts, as you note. So a TV listing company absolutely could have a copyright on their *design* but so long as the site in question changed the design and merely reprinted the facts, it should be allowed. But it was not.

    That's the problem.

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