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Facts are not copyrightable

Facts are not copyrightable

Posted Feb 16, 2012 15:17 UTC (Thu) by Seegras (guest, #20463)
Parent article: Gray areas in software licensing

"In addition, a Hunspell dictionary isn't really just a list of words - it also contains grammatical and hyphenation information, which involves some creativity. So there's a solid argument that the dictionary is copyrightable."

There is a solid argument that it's not. These are rules for a language. And there obviously is NO creativity involved, it's just a compilation of facts about the language. Of course it's work to produce a dictionary, but that's not a criterion for copyrightability.

IANAL, but according to my understanding of swiss, german and US-law, I'd say you're on pretty good ground by assuming its not copyrightable. Maybe ;)


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Facts are not copyrightable

Posted Feb 16, 2012 15:57 UTC (Thu) by mpr22 (subscriber, #60784) [Link]

The relevant term (in at least some European jurisdictions) is "database rights".

Facts are not copyrightable

Posted Feb 16, 2012 16:14 UTC (Thu) by etiennez (guest, #53056) [Link]

Which is copyright + Sui generis rights (= a lot of maybes)

http://europa.eu/legislation_summaries/internal_market/bu...

Facts are not copyrightable

Posted Feb 16, 2012 17:40 UTC (Thu) by dneary (subscriber, #55185) [Link]

> There is a solid argument that it's not. These are rules for a language.
> And there obviously is NO creativity involved, it's just a compilation of
> facts about the language. Of course it's work to produce a dictionary, but
> that's not a criterion for copyrightability.
>
> IANAL, but according to my understanding of swiss, german and US-law, I'd
> say you're on pretty good ground by assuming its not copyrightable. Maybe ;)

I don't want to disagree with you for the sake of it, but the threshold in the US for "originality" is very low. For example, creating a list with some non-deterministic ordering would be enough. For a dictionary, the definitions of the words would clearly be original work.

There's a decent wikipedia article on this I'd recommend you read. It's fascinating: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Threshold_of_originality - one example cited in that article is a newspaper in the UK which asserted copyright on a speech they had transcribed and published - based on the amount of work which had gone into the transcription.

So while "maybe" is still the right answer, in this particular case, I would not bet on any court deciding that a Hunspell dictionary is not copyrightable.

Facts are not copyrightable

Posted Feb 16, 2012 19:59 UTC (Thu) by shmget (subscriber, #58347) [Link]

"These are rules for a language. And there obviously is NO creativity involved, it's just a compilation of facts about the language."

The 'facts' about the languages are not rules. The facts are the observation that a given word is spelled, mostly, at a certain point in time, a certain way, after that people invent 'rules' - usually with 'exceptions' - to codify that...

creating rules out of facts is creative. otherwise no scientific publication would be copyrightable either.


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