User: Password:
Subscribe / Log in / New account

Copying phone books

Copying phone books

Posted Sep 29, 2005 20:15 UTC (Thu) by giraffedata (subscriber, #1954)
In reply to: The Authors' Guild and Google Print by kreutzm
Parent article: The Authors' Guild and Google Print

Actually, there is an old case in US copyright law that holds unequivocally that a phone book isn't covered by copyright. For it to be covered, either the individual entries would have to be creative or they would have to be arranged in some creative order. The court found that alphabetical order was not sufficiently creative.

This was reaffirmed in the seminal (for other reasons) Phonedisc USA case, in which a person bought a CD of phone directories and published them on the web.

For a database to be covered by copyright, it would have to meet the same tests. Note that the number of databases covered by copyright is probably far less than the number whose authors claim they are covered by copyright, so we really don't know how many are.

But the OP talked about German, not US copyright law. It's probably different.

In any practical copyright law, typing from sight is copying. There would be little point to copyright if it weren't. So it's hard to see just what the legal value of having laborers type in German phonebooks (vs what alternative?) was.

(Log in to post comments)

Copying phone books

Posted Oct 3, 2005 22:56 UTC (Mon) by man_ls (guest, #15091) [Link]

In Europe compilations of facts are copyrightable, at least in the EU. In fact they are copyrighted, so you cannot redistribute databases like phone books, even if they are not creative at all. On the other hand, personal data are protected by European Directives, so phone books are doubly delicate. IANAL.

Probably the "Chinese copy writers" were just exploiting some German loophole in the law, or even more probably were mythical. As you say, it makes no sense; otherwise they could type in the latest bestseller and distribute it. Or sing Chinese a capella versions of the latest successful songs, as "you can certainly listen to music and the law cannot regulate what you do while listening".

Copying phone books

Posted Oct 6, 2005 7:25 UTC (Thu) by Wol (guest, #4433) [Link]

ACtually, they are NOT "copyright". They are "databaseright" or whatever it's called. It's a similar, but distinct, concept of IP right.

The law places a value on the work carried out to create the compilation. So in practice, it works out just like copyright, but isn't. Just as two people could, theoretically, write the same book without knowing about the other, and copyright says "that's fine", so you have the same with databases - if my research produces the same results as yours, then there's no infringement, but if my research consists primarily of going through your database, then there is ...


Copyright © 2017, Eklektix, Inc.
Comments and public postings are copyrighted by their creators.
Linux is a registered trademark of Linus Torvalds