Not logged in
Log in now
Create an account
Subscribe to LWN
Pencil, Pencil, and Pencil
Dividing the Linux desktop
LWN.net Weekly Edition for June 13, 2013
A report from pgCon 2013
Little things that matter in language design
Reconciliation between CC and ODC
Posted Jan 13, 2011 21:57 UTC (Thu) by epa (subscriber, #39769)
Copyrightability of maps
Posted Jan 14, 2011 18:00 UTC (Fri) by giraffedata (subscriber, #1954)
I don't think there is anything in the statues referring to 'creative' (though I might be wrong).
Well the statutes are a tiny fraction, a mere whisper, of the law. Written court opinions use "creative" a lot. They actually prefer "original," but that is practically a synonym.
Ones I've seen also like to stress that copyright covers expression of facts, as opposed to facts. It provides writers a way to get paid for their writing by the people who benefit from it, but doesn't provide researchers a way to get paid from their research by the people who benefit from it.
There is a major case in this area in the US from 1991: Feist vs Rural Telephone Service Co. Feist copied all the names, addresses, and phone numbers from Rural's telephone directory into a compilation of directories. The court said Rural could do nothing to stop that. It said that a writing has to cross a certain threshold of originality to trigger copyright, and that alphabetical order is not sufficiently original. So Rural's telephone directory was not copyrightable.
I can see this apply to some maps. Telling someone the shape of a coastline by drawing a scale picture of it is the least original way imaginable to do that. I can also see how a more elaborate map could cross that threshold. But by the same token, looking at that fancy map and making another one with the same information shown another way probably wouldn't violate that copyright.
Posted Jan 18, 2011 8:29 UTC (Tue) by epa (subscriber, #39769)
I'd further suggest that putting the map into computer-readable form does not change its copyright status, not even if you start calling it a 'database'.
Of course the underlying facts themselves are not under the control of anybody, but that does not mean you can copy the representation of them. Similarly, anybody can photograph the Statue of Liberty, but it is not allowed to take somebody else's photo and copy it without their permission. You can certainly use it to learn some facts, such as 'the statue has a spiky hat', but it's not safe to make a copy of the representation of those facts without some clean-room process.
Posted Jan 26, 2011 0:42 UTC (Wed) by jrochkind (guest, #72573)
Posted Jan 26, 2011 16:02 UTC (Wed) by an+h0ny (guest, #72530)
Correct. But if you're going to do that, you might as well go back to the aerial photos and/or GPS traces and/or public domain data which the OSM map was created from.
To successfully extract all the public domain information out of OSM, you'd almost have to do as much work as just starting from scratch.
It's similar to the fact that you could, in theory, extract all the raw facts out of Wikipedia and then use them to recreate your own encyclopedia, which wouldn't be subject to the copyleft requirements.
Copyright © 2013, Eklektix, Inc.
Comments and public postings are copyrighted by their creators.
Linux is a registered trademark of Linus Torvalds