Australian Court Says You Can't Copyright Facts; Phone Books Not Protected

from the no-sweat-of-the-brow dept

sinsi is the first of a few to alert us to another good copyright ruling in Australia (following the recent iiNet ruling -- though the Kookaburra ruling is still pretty bad), finding that (as in the US) a collection of facts alone is not copyrightable. The specific case involved a telephone book, and whether or not the collection of numbers was covered by copyright. The court, smartly, rejected copyright on such a collection of factual information:
"None of the Works were original," Justice Gordon said in her judgement this week.

"None of the people said to be authors of the Works exercised 'independent intellectual effort' or 'sufficient effort of a literary nature' in creating the (directories).'

"Further, if necessary, the creation of the Works did not involve some 'creative spark' or the exercise of the requisite 'skill and judgment'."
There are some places that do allow copyrights on aggregated facts, but a growing body of research has found that such "database rights" or copyrights on aggregated facts tends to hinder innovation rather than encourage it -- and if the purpose of copyright law is to create incentives for new works and for innovation, allowing copyrights on collections of factual information is a bad idea. So, congrats to Australia on another good copyright ruling. Of course, this one will likely be appealed as well, and with lobbyists already pushing to amend copyright law following the iiNet ruling, I'm sure someone will try to change copyright law to include a database right as well, despite all the evidence of how harmful it is overall.

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  • identicon
    anti-mike fanclub member #1, 12 Feb 2010 @ 7:11pm

    Step 1. Copy someone else's phone book
    Step 2. Remove their ads and place your own. Put more ads in it so it is thicker and looks more authoritative
    Step 3. Profit

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 12 Feb 2010 @ 7:26pm

      Re:

      You left out the part where you needlessly destroy thousands of trees and litter everyones doorstep with stupid books no one wants.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        anti-mike fanclub member #1, 12 Feb 2010 @ 8:28pm

        Re: Re:

        The advertisers want that book. On your doorstep and preferably in your house. Whether you want it is irrelevant. That's also what junk mailers, spammers, ad banner farms, and television advertisers want. That you don't want any of it doesn't stop any of them.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      ChurchHatesTucker (profile), 12 Feb 2010 @ 8:15pm

      Re: Dumbass

      Alphabetical order is not creative.

      It's kind of the opposite of creative. For christsakes, ordering by number rather than name is a giagantic leap of creativity in comparrison, and *that's* still not creative.

      Really getting sick of all the frakers that think they invented some such ordering system (hint: you didn't) and feel they need to be paid (pro tip: you don't) and that the world owes their obviousness a living. (Good luck with that.)

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      ChimpBush McHitlerBurton, 13 Feb 2010 @ 3:10pm

      Re: Copy someone else's phone book??

      "Step 1. Copy someone else's phone book
      Step 2. Remove their ads and place your own. Put more ads in it so it is thicker and looks more authoritative
      Step 3. Profit"


      Yeah... Fail.

      Why would I go to the trouble of copying someones PRINTED phone book, when I could just purchase the same database that the phone book creator did, and make my own phone book from the data?

      And please don't say something stupid like "because you would have to pay for the database", because that would just show how little you really thought this through, as if we didn't already know.

      CBMHB

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        anti-mike fanclub member #1, 13 Feb 2010 @ 11:25pm

        Re: Re: Copy someone else's phone book??

        Why dont you ask the people that did it and got involved in a lawsuit?

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Brad Eleven (profile), 13 Feb 2010 @ 8:59am

    Step 1. Copy someone else's phone book ........... $$$$$$ Step 2. Remove their ads ($$$$) and place your own ($$$$$). Put more ads in it ($$$$) so it is thicker and looks more authoritative .................................... $$$$$$ Step 3. Profit Yeah, I'm a little hazy on Step 3. How the F do you get people to pay for the goddamned thing? Ohhhhhhh, riiiiiiiiiiiiiiiight, the *advertisers* pay. Right. So you have to either have already done the legwork to secure the advertisers, or you have to get them. Funny thing: The difficult part of the project isn't getting the facts from the original collector (gov't subsidized phone company). It's selling the advertising, and getting the ad art, and the graphic artist(s) to lay out the ads, and the paper, and the printing, and ... Who in his right mind would want to do this for money?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      anti-mike fanclub member #1, 13 Feb 2010 @ 11:26am

      Re:

      If you provide value to those advertisers, I think it doesn't matter where you got the phone listings from. Whoever made the phone listings in the first place is incompetent in extracting maximal value out of them, and society is best served when someone else comes along and does a better job.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        ethorad (profile), 15 Feb 2010 @ 2:01am

        Re: Re:

        Whoever made the phone listings in the first place is incompetent in extracting maximal value out of them, and society is best served when someone else comes along and does a better job

        Except if they are extracting value by selling the collated results to people who are good at collecting advertisers, and printing/distributing heavy books. No one company has to do an entire process from cutting down trees to delivering a book. Division of labour FTW

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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