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Australian Judge Rules Facts Cannot Be Copyrighted

timothy posted more than 4 years ago | from the same-time-same-channel dept.

Australia 234

nfarrell writes "Last week, an Australian Judge ruled that copyright laws do not apply to collections of facts, regardless of the amount of effort that was spent collecting them. In this case, the case surrounded the reproduction of entries from the White and Yellow Pages, but the ruling referred to a previous case involving IceTV, which republishes TV guides. Does this mean that other databases of facts, such as financial data, are also legally able to be copied and redistributed?" Here are analyses from a former legal adviser to the directory publisher which prevailed as the defendant in this case, and from Smart Company.

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Settled law in the United States (5, Informative)

Kirijini (214824) | more than 4 years ago | (#31133372)

This has been settled law in the United States since the Supreme Court ruling in Feist Publications, Inc., v. Rural Telephone Service Co. [wikipedia.org] (1991). You can read the whole opinion on Google Scholar [google.com] . I highly recommend reading it, it's a classic in American copyright law.

Re:Settled law in the United States (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31133394)

Interesting. So the publication of facts is uncopyrightable.

If I really wanted to go to extremes, could I demand that documentaries, photographs, or other representations of "facts" as being uncopyrightable as well?

I'm really just confused as to what extent we can classify things as facts or not facts.

Re:Settled law in the United States (5, Informative)

Trepidity (597) | more than 4 years ago | (#31133428)

Particular representations of facts, like documentaries or photographs, can be copyrighted. It's the underlying facts that can't be, so you can't stop someone else from publishing the same facts in a way that doesn't use any of your creative presentation of them. In Feist, the court held that there wasn't any creative presentation at all, because listing all people in an area code in alphabetical order was just the bare facts, with no presentation that rose to the level of something copyrightable. If they had done something creative, they could copyright that part, but anyone could still extract and republish the names and phone numbers, because that bare list isn't copyrightable.

Re:Settled law in the United States (4, Insightful)

Trepidity (597) | more than 4 years ago | (#31133444)

To give a not-yet-litigated example of what I think would be the 3d analogy: A 3d model exactly capturing the surface of the Washington Monument is not copyrightable, because it's mere facts. However, particular photographs or films of the Washington Monument are copyrightable, as they have creative presentation. However (again), someone who collected a bunch of photographs or films of it and extracted a 3d model [washington.edu] of the Washington Monument from them, would not be violating the copyright on the photographs or films, because they were merely copying the facts (the 3d spatial position of the stones).

Re:Settled law in the United States (2)

mwvdlee (775178) | more than 4 years ago | (#31133518)

How about a rendering of the 3D model?

Re:Settled law in the United States (2, Informative)

tepples (727027) | more than 4 years ago | (#31133726)

My understanding is that an original rendering with an original arrangement of lights on the (uncopyrightable) 3D model would be copyrightable, at least in the United States.

Re:Settled law in the United States (2)

erroneus (253617) | more than 4 years ago | (#31133978)

I think one part of the test should include the probability that two independent parties doing the same work ending up with the exact same result should determine whether or not something should be a creative work.

Would two parties doing the exact same work come up with two [substantially] different models of the Washington monument? I doubt it.

If this test were applied, I think it becomes increasingly more obvious as to what is a creative work and what is not.

Re:Settled law in the United States (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31133584)

Funnily enough, it would seem that eliminating information can make something copyrightable. The elimination process takes creativity (you have to choose what to leave out), so presumably if I publish a creative 2D representation, or only a carefully selected subset of the phonebook, I can claim copyright??

Re:Settled law in the United States (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31133672)

Clearly any 3D model would not be accurate to 100% not even 10% or 1% (counting all details and lack of volume/material information) and is therefor only an interpretation and not fact.
A phone number is abstract, such as the nature of numbers, ie. fact. You can copyright how you present that fact, in printed/digital text/images etc.

Re:Settled law in the United States (1)

ookabooka (731013) | more than 4 years ago | (#31133692)

Which begs the question: Why hasn't the US gov trademarked the Washington Monument?

Did I use "begs the question" appropriately here?

Re:Settled law in the United States (1)

Bill Currie (487) | more than 4 years ago | (#31133730)

No, you did not. The phrase you want is "raises the question". (No, I don't know the correct usage, though I've seen it posted a few times)

Re:Settled law in the United States (2, Informative)

Trepidity (597) | more than 4 years ago | (#31133764)

In philosophy and logic, question-begging is basically a fancy term for circular argument: using the thing you want to prove, or something equivalent to it, as part of your argument for that same thing.

Oddly that "correct" usage is itself actually somewhat of a corruption. Aristotle considered circular argument different from question-beginning, and defined question-begging as asking your opponent in a debate to conceded a point that was equivalent to the point being debate. They're somewhat related concepts, though.

Re:Settled law in the United States (1)

johny42 (1087173) | more than 4 years ago | (#31133868)

Washington Monument is probably already in public domain, the architect died in 1855.

But you are right to ask, something natural (like a mountain or a cave, etc.) would probably be a better example in parent's post.

Re:Settled law in the United States (1)

osu-neko (2604) | more than 4 years ago | (#31133962)

Rule of thumb: if you're using "begs the question" correctly, you probably don't have to state what question is being begged, since that's implicit. An argument that "begs the question" is circular, so it boils down to "if (something is true), then (something is true)", which, of course, begs the question (the question being, "Well, is (something) true or not?").

Re:Settled law in the United States (3, Interesting)

jklovanc (1603149) | more than 4 years ago | (#31133738)

I disagree. The fact that the Washington monument 555 feet and 5 1/8 inches tall is not copyrightable but a 3-D model may be. The model must have some form of coordinate system. It must have some sort or relationship between the coordinates. It must have some indication of what is solid and what is not. This is much more than simple facts.

If it was not copyrightable then there would be no way to recoup the cost of creating 3-D models of buildings. Think of how much it would cost to 3D model New York City.

Re:Settled law in the United States (3, Insightful)

Trepidity (597) | more than 4 years ago | (#31133782)

If it was not copyrightable then there would be no way to recoup the cost of creating 3-D models of buildings. Think of how much it would cost to 3D model New York City.

Isn't that essentially the "sweat of the brow" [wikipedia.org] argument U.S. copyright law explicitly rejected? The mere fact that it takes a lot of effort to compile some facts doesn't make them copyrightable.

(And in any case, it actually isn't very expensive to crowdsource a 3d model of a whole city [washington.edu] .)

Re:Settled law in the United States (2, Informative)

jklovanc (1603149) | more than 4 years ago | (#31133858)

You missed a key point of the the rejection;
"The arrangement and presentation of a collection may be original, but not if it is "simple and obvious" such as a list in alphabetical or chronological order."
The arrangement of 3D data is neither "simple" nor "obvious" for the reasons I already stated. If you disagree ask an average adult to create a 3D model of a building.

Re:Settled law in the United States (2, Insightful)

Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) | more than 4 years ago | (#31133872)

The arrangement of 3D data is neither "simple" nor "obvious" for the reasons I already stated. If you disagree ask an average adult to create a 3D model of a building.

An exact model would contain no creative component. Especially considering that said arrangement of 3D data is going to be in some standardized format which is the 3D equivalent of alphabetizing a list of names.

Re:Settled law in the United States (1)

wvmarle (1070040) | more than 4 years ago | (#31133888)

But for the question whether the model is copyrightable or not (I would argue it is; while a e.g. list of telephone numbers or the results of sports events I would agree is not),to get any useful answer you will have to ask a judge. Or at least a lawyer specialised in the field.

I think you have good chance for making it copyrightable because it is a separate work though based on an actual building (photographs of it are also copyrightable). You may even violate the copyright (if any such exist) on the very design of the building though as photographs are OK I think you're clear there.

Though coming back to uncopyrightable lists, when you create statistics using those sports results those numbers may be copyrightable again, not sure about that. On one hand it is a fact (team A had five wins, three draws and eight losses this season - just counting the numbers), though it needs work to get there from the bare facts. And where that threshold lies... well again better ask a judge.

Re:Settled law in the United States (1)

Registered Coward v2 (447531) | more than 4 years ago | (#31134064)

To give a not-yet-litigated example of what I think would be the 3d analogy: A 3d model exactly capturing the surface of the Washington Monument is not copyrightable, because it's mere facts. However, particular photographs or films of the Washington Monument are copyrightable, as they have creative presentation. However (again), someone who collected a bunch of photographs or films of it and extracted a 3d model [washington.edu] of the Washington Monument from them, would not be violating the copyright on the photographs or films, because they were merely copying the facts (the 3d spatial position of the stones).

That's an interesting question - would the result be a derivative work and hence subject to the original's copyright? Each photo provides the photographer's view and distorts the actual relationship by the very act of capturing in 2d a 3d object.

I'm not saying that should be the case; but it could be.

Any real IP lawyers care to chime in?

Re:Settled law in the United States (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31133464)

In the movie Avatar, 13m23.82 seconds in, the color at a position 0.2912 of the screen width from the left, and 0.1482 of the screen height from the top, has RGB values 13, 73, 211.

Is this a fact or not?

Re:Settled law in the United States (2, Insightful)

smallfries (601545) | more than 4 years ago | (#31133476)

It's a nice try, but you are trying to define a fact based on some copyrighted work. While meta-logic tricks might seem like a nice way around for a geek, for a lawyer they are simply a violation of copyright.

Re:Settled law in the United States (2, Insightful)

Tim C (15259) | more than 4 years ago | (#31133592)

On a related note, courts tend to take a rather dim view of people trying to take the piss and exploit clever word play to try to get around a law like that. It also takes you well out of "I'm sorry, I didn't realise it was wrong..." and squarely into culpable intent territory, which is likely to up the consequences to the higher end of the scale.

(Note: of course, IANAL)

Re:Settled law in the United States (1)

peragrin (659227) | more than 4 years ago | (#31133648)

I used to believe that too until I read that SCO is is still in alive and in court saying crap like that.

Re:Settled law in the United States (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31133506)

Seems like a brief review to me.

Re:Settled law in the United States (1)

MrNaz (730548) | more than 4 years ago | (#31133522)

That's not a brief review. That's a comprehensive cover of the movie's entire plot, including a spoiler.

Re:Settled law in the United States (2, Informative)

JorDan Clock (664877) | more than 4 years ago | (#31133540)

That's a fact based on a creative work. Not a creative work based on a fact.

Re:Settled law in the United States (1)

srussia (884021) | more than 4 years ago | (#31133852)

That's a fact based on a creative work. Not a creative work based on a fact.

Oddly enough, there is no intensional definition of "work" in the context of IP law.

How about databases? (2, Interesting)

golodh (893453) | more than 4 years ago | (#31133598)

As the parent poster notes, this ruling from down-under agrees with US legal theory on this issue. But what about databases?

For example ... Lexis-Nexus? And big chemical databases (see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chemical_database [wikipedia.org] ) like the Beilstein database (see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Beilstein_database [wikipedia.org] )?

On the one hand I'm very glad that mere facts aren't patentable, but on the other hand if this means that anyone can slurp down your entire database and then resell it or even export it then it's less of a boon. This is why e.g. the EU came up with their "database directive" which expressly provides databases with copyright protection if they are "collections of facts that took significant effort to compile".

Not that that's ideal, because it e.g. lets public transport providers claim copyright on timetables (which they promptly abused in the EU until court-cases established that public transport providers had to draw uptime-tables anyway in order to make their networks run, and that it required negligible effort to put that stuff into a database afterwards). Likewise with ZIP codes in the EU: it may seem ridiculous but ZIP code databases are copyrighted there.

So what is the legal status of databases here? Does anyone know?

Re:How about databases? (1)

MrHanky (141717) | more than 4 years ago | (#31133740)

One particular collection of facts, the fixture lists of English Premier League games, is copyrighted in the UK [wikipedia.org] but uncopyrightable in the EU under the database directive. The legal status of databases here depends on where 'here' is.

Re:How about databases? (1)

mspohr (589790) | more than 4 years ago | (#31133798)

What is a "fixture list"? It sounds like a list of hardware used to hold the ball or the sinks and toilets in the mens room (WC). Sorry, I'm not British.

Re:How about databases? (1)

phyrz (669413) | more than 4 years ago | (#31133880)

4 : a settled date or time especially for a sporting or festive event; also : such an event especially as a regularly scheduled affair

Study the language dood.

Re:How about databases? (1)

vlm (69642) | more than 4 years ago | (#31133884)

What is a "fixture list"?

Its more or less the thing that EA updates in its video games each year to get sports fans to pay another $50+

It sounds like a list of hardware used to hold the ball or the sinks and toilets in the mens room (WC).

Unlike a fixture list, that could actual add real value, if you're trying to replace a specific broken part with a compatible aftermarket part.

Sorry, I'm not British.

And for everyone else, there's google.

Re:How about databases? (1)

kill-1 (36256) | more than 4 years ago | (#31133848)

I don't know about the US but in Germany and I think the rest of the EU, the "sweat of the brow" rule applies to databases.

Re:Settled law in the United States (1)

erroneus (253617) | more than 4 years ago | (#31133918)

Indeed. I was thinking more along the lines of the cases surrounding the collection and use of baseball statistics and TV guides, but yeah. And it makes perfect sense.

If it's a creative work, then someone doing the exact same research could put together something similar and come up with something completely different. In the case of non-creative works, if someone did the exact same research they would come up with identical data. This is why facts should not and cannot be copyrightable. They are not creative works.

Google Books? (1)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 4 years ago | (#31133376)

I suppose google are now free to feed the yellow and white pages through the google books scanner. They can have my copy. I'm not using it. And I will be glad not to have to use the Sensis's own White Pages web interface [whitepages.com.au]

Re:Google Books? (1)

Architect_sasyr (938685) | more than 4 years ago | (#31133532)

I'm wondering if this means we can reverse-lookup telephone numbers again (The Gray Pages or something to that effect)? We haven't been able to do that for a few years now but if someone wants to suck all the information in and distribute a DVD...

Re:Google Books? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31133626)

Unlikely, there is other laws, privacy I think, that cover reverse phone directories...

Re:Google Books? (1)

rtb61 (674572) | more than 4 years ago | (#31133812)

In Australia they would now be free to gain the data from the white pages (you likely could transcribe the data and rekey, maybe even scan and OCR it for reproduction) but not to copy the yellow pages but they again likely can extract the data and reproduce that (yellow pages contains artwork, in the form of advertisements and the would be copyrightable ).

Non-fiction text books are a better example, whilst you are free to extract the facts and rewrite them in your own words you cannot copy the original creative presentation of the facts.

As for electronic factual databases, whilst the facts are not copyrightable, the interface to access, search and present those facts are. One would still have to wonder about purposeful errors, false created facts, if you copy those even just the data you would be infringing copyright as those entries are creative content. Rather odd isn't it, with regards to the law in affect, lies are copyrightable but the truth isn't. From this I gather that pigopolists can not be trusted with a monopoly on the truth but they have "carte blanche" on their speciality, lies ;D.

What about... (2, Interesting)

concernedadmin (1054160) | more than 4 years ago | (#31133378)

... facts interspersed with opinions? Is there partial copyright in effect with only the opinion parts falling under copyright law?

MOD PARENT WAY UP (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31133390)

... facts interspersed with opinions? Is there partial copyright in effect with only the opinion parts falling under copyright law?

very insightful indeed. i'd say that an individual fact like "the sky is blue" should not be copyrightable. but if you had a textbook or something that has a whole bunch of facts or theories or whatever, then you chose to organize them in that way, and i guess that itself is an opinion, right? i dunno. good question though

Re:MOD PARENT WAY UP (1)

Tim C (15259) | more than 4 years ago | (#31133604)

The textbook is copyrightable, as these is creative work involved in taking the facts and presenting them in the text. The facts themselves are not copyrightable; it is not possible to prevent someone else from describing the same facts in their own words.

So, the fact that Einstein developed the Theory of Relativity is not copyrightable. A given description of it and of the process by which he developed it is, but feel free to write your own in your own words and publish that.

Re:MOD PARENT WAY UP (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31133850)

This was tried in London in Dan Brown and the Baigent and Leigh guy. The judge ruled that history is not copyrightable (Even if you made the whole thing up!).

Re:What about... (1)

wvmarle (1070040) | more than 4 years ago | (#31133906)

I think no question there as many works of art mention certain facts, or direct references to those facts. Assuming the facts are there to support the opinion, the work as a whole can be copyrighted.

That however would not prevent someone from taking the facts out of it and republish it. For example you may be able to copyright a telephone book, however everyone can take the telephone book, copy the facts, and republish in their own format. They can just not put the book on the copier and create their own copy.

US Law (2, Informative)

Toonol (1057698) | more than 4 years ago | (#31133380)

May be worth noting that "collections of fact" have long been recognized as uncopyrightable in the US. However, if significant creative work went into filtering the facts in a certain way.. like I picked out all the funny-sounding names from the phone book... the resulting list may be copyrighted.

Re:US Law (1)

maxwell demon (590494) | more than 4 years ago | (#31133468)

But if I make a list of all names which appear in your list, it's facts again, namely the fact which names appear in your list ...

Re:US Law (3, Insightful)

MrNaz (730548) | more than 4 years ago | (#31133534)

You're playing fast and loose with the definition of a fact. If you take your attempt here, then nothing is copyrightable, because it is a "fact" that the writing on the pages of this particular book are what they are, therefor nothing is copyrightable.

You can't just meta factualise the entire universe and render copyright law null.

Re:US Law (1)

Narcocide (102829) | more than 4 years ago | (#31133612)

... but it was a good try.

Re:US Law (2, Insightful)

maxwell demon (590494) | more than 4 years ago | (#31133624)

You're playing fast and loose with the definition of a fact.

I'm using the normal, everyday definition of a fact. If the legal definition of a fact is different, that definition should be stated somewhere.

For example, say I'm creative when naming my child, can I then sue the phone book company for copyright infringement when it lists the name?

Re:US Law (1)

jklovanc (1603149) | more than 4 years ago | (#31133776)

A list of interesting names is not a fact in that it is formed by the creative selection of names by a person or group of people. In all probability no two lists created by different groups would be the same therefore there is creativity in the creation of the list.
One could publish something stating that a name was on the list because that is a fact but not just copy the whole list.

Re:US Law (1)

maxwell demon (590494) | more than 4 years ago | (#31133908)

A list of interesting names is not a fact in that it is formed by the creative selection of names by a person or group of people.

As soon as you created the list, it's a fact.

One could publish something stating that a name was on the list because that is a fact but not just copy the whole list.

So saying that one name is on the list is a fact. Saying the same about several names certainly is a fact, too. So with how many names does it stop being a fact? I'll answer that for you: Never. Stating a complete list of names on your list is a fact, too, just as stating a complete list of names of people living in Texas is a fact. It started to be a fact as soon as you created that list.

Re:US Law (1)

RichardJenkins (1362463) | more than 4 years ago | (#31134060)

Read the legal opinion (http://scholar.google.com/scholar_case?case=1195336269698056315) your basing your ideas on. It explains how facts are not copyrightable, how compilations of facts can be, and how Rural's isn't. Very readable, but that's the thing about law - you do have to read allot to understand it. Otherwise how will you know if you've misunderstood it (like you did).

In your case, they explain "A factual compilation is eligible for copyright if it features an original selection or arrangement of facts [like that original selection of funny names that you think you can copy], but the copyright is limited to the particular selection or arrangement. In no event may copyright extend to the facts themselves."

You can't copyright a name, no matter how creative it is (typically this is about brand names though).

Seriously, reading just a little is better than talking-out-your ass.

(Just in case you've really got muddled, this whole business about facts not being copyrightable doesn't mean that you can publish a document saying "it is a fact that the text of text of work X was ....." without violating the copyright on work X)

Re:US Law (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31133846)

Yeah, and using that argument, I can freely copy, say, photographs (digital ones, anyway) by saying "the RGB values of the first pixel are XYZ" and so on. Or copy books by enumerating all the words they contain.

Or even copy ANY digital data by simply specifying whether any given position contains a one or a zero, and in fact, I have a very efficient bit-packed encoding for that information...

Somehow, I don't think this would fly, though.

I know I'll get modded down for this, but (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31133382)

The difference between Aboriginals and whites is a gulf that will be with us for centuries, and no amount of money, or do-gooders efforts, will do much to narrow it.
Until you have worked with Abo's or employed them, as I have, you will never grasp the differences between white and Aboriginal outlooks, on every facet of our respective cultures.

The problem is that Abo's are tribal - but whites are independent and self-reliant. Abos do not recognise material value - whites value it greatly. A fine wooden table, built by craftsmen, is adored and respected, and treated with care, by whites - but in Abo's eyes, it's seen as a table only until it gets cold - then it's seen as firewood to keep you warm.

Money is something that whites value greatly, and place great personal attachment to. Abo's see money as something to be spent - now - with no idea of its value, and no idea of the amount of work attached to gathering it.
If one Abo has $50, the whole tribe is rich. No Abo goes without, if just one Abo has money. If you're a white, and have $50M - and I'm down on my luck, unemployed, without a cent to my name - you'll walk past me in the street, telling me I need to work harder. If you're stuck, anywhere, for any reason - any Abo will help you - but he expects you to turn around and help the whole tribe, the minute he decides they need assistance.

The reason Abos steal everything they can lay their hands on, is because their minds work on simple tribal mentality. "You have money - I need it - if you don't give it to me, like other tribe members would do - I'll steal it."
The need for personal possessions, and the work ethic, are something that Abo's have never possessed in 40,000 years. They have never needed to work.
They get hungry, they hunt down some food, kill it and eat it on the spot. If it's a big feed, like a wallaby, the whole lot has to be eaten on the spot. There may not be any food tomorrow, and tomorrow may never come.
Abo's never even consider tomorrow in any form. Whites plan carefully, and plan ahead. Abos never plan anything. They take life as it comes, and live only for the present.

Booze is something that makes Abo's feel good, and is readily available. Why not drink booze all day? This is the simple childlike outlook of the Abo mentality. Unfortunately, booze was never a part of their culture until the whites arrived - but early administrators saw that Abo's were incapable of handling booze - and refused to give it them (a wise move).

In the 1960's, do-gooders said that was discrimination, and fought for "drinking rights" for Abo's - and won them. Since that time, billions have been spent trying to reverse the damage that alcohol has done to Abo communities. Some communities have gone completely dry to try and eliminate the community damage, and have ejected the Abo boozers - who have ended up hanging around the outskirts of, and in the centre of, country towns - creating trouble and indulging in anti-social behaviour. It will get worse before it gets better. The remote Abo communities don't want these trouble-making, boozing, Abo people - but neither do the white-run towns want them. Thus, they live in permanent limbo, from welfare payment to welfare payment, and from one booze-sozzled day, to the next.

The tribal, communal, simplistic, childlike outlook, that Abo's have, is totally at complete odds, with whites outlook - where we value the work ethic, monetary wealth, personal responsibility - and take great pride in material possessions, and guard them possessively.
The Abo's possess fabulous hunting, tracking, and visual skills that few whites can match. Ask a white child to look at a tree, and relate what they see - and a white child will tell you the type of tree, whether its a pretty tree, whether it has value as timber, or how it fits into its urban surroundings.
An Abo child will tell you about what medicine that tree is good for, what animals or insect inhabit it, that are good to eat, what the wood and resin is good for (digging sticks, woomeras or spears) .. and they'll examine the ground under the tree and tell you what animals have tracked under it recently.

If you employ Abos, expect to employ the whole tribe. If you want one Abo worker, employ three - because the one you employ initially will turn up for the first three days of the week, then vanish for 3 weeks - as he is gripped by more important issues than work - such as "family problems", or some tribal gathering that's important to him. Having to work, to earn money, is not something that has ever been linked in Abo's minds. The whites provide you with money, anyway, so why bother working? If the whites don't provide it, steal it! - they got plenty anyway!

Until the people in charge of decision making with regard to Abo support, come to the understanding that Aboriginal overall outlook, and the whites overall outlook, are at a variance that can never be fully joined, by trying to make Abo's behave like whites, the sooner the "Aboriginal problem" will be resolved.

Re:I know I'll get modded down for this, but (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31133472)

Wow. That is some pretty shocking stuff. You have made an extremely superficial analysis of some of the differences between aboriginal and "white"culture. Why is alcoholism such a problem for aboriginal communities? You make many sweeping generalisations and the overriding theme seems to be that Aboriginals are inherently inferior. No amount of time, effort, money can help them. Therefore we shouldn't bother. How defeatist.
You should look across the ditch to New Zealand and learn how to treat aboriginal people fairly. It starts with an apology. Well done Australia on finally starting to make things right. NZ may not have got there yet but great strides have been made to honor the treaty made with the Maori people. It is possible to keep your cultural identity and embrace the modern world at the same time. Most of the problems you describe inherent in the aboriginals in Australia are the problems of poverty. Why are they so poor? Lack of work ethic right and inherent moral failure right? The aboriginals of Australia exhibit all of the signs of a broken people. The great shame is how they got that way and how little is done to help them. Of course it's much easier to blame them then have to address the complex reasons for how they got that way and the expensive, difficult road ahead if the will existed to help them. I am not sure it does.

What any of this has to do with copyrights is beyond me...

Re:I know I'll get modded down for this, but (2)

darinfp (907671) | more than 4 years ago | (#31133554)

Why you bothered replying is beyond me...

Re:I know I'll get modded down for this, but (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31133892)

My guess is he had an aboriginal girlfriend who dumped him or got into a fight with an aboriginal dude in the local pub (probably Bowraville) last night and is feeling pissed off and wants to vent. But in my opinion, as disparaging as he is, he's trying to understand the cultural differences between the societies which is a lot more than most white people, especially those in the city are willing to do.

Re:I know I'll get modded down for this, but (0, Offtopic)

cyber-vandal (148830) | more than 4 years ago | (#31133632)

Give them their country back and bugger off back to Europe. I bet you have the nerve to complain about illegal immigrants too.

Re:I know I'll get modded down for this, but (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31133912)

News flash, chump: everyone's ancestors stole the land their descendants (you) inhabit, with few exceptions. American/Canadian? Native Americans/Inuits. British/European? Your land has been stolen so many times and by so many people that it's pointless to recount a history of it. You are some kind of super-hypocrite, implying someone's a hypocrite for doing what do you. This ignores the fact that you advocate going out of your way to punish people for where they were born (something beyond their control), and going out of your way to reward others for equally unmerited attributes. I suppose you would like us to return to a society of aristocratic elite, hmm?

Piss off, troll.

Re:I know I'll get modded down for this, but (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31133924)

Nup. country is ours. If it was 'polically correct', I would suggest we invade the illegals too :)

It's not the end of the world. (1)

serviscope_minor (664417) | more than 4 years ago | (#31133392)

So, facts cannot be copyrighted. Good. That would be a sily road to go down. If companies want to be able to restrict access beyond copyright, they should stop trying to freeload off the government and make people sign contracts.

If that is not profitable, well then tough. Some things aren't.

Re:It's not the end of the world. (1)

sictransitgloriacfa (1739280) | more than 4 years ago | (#31133694)

Obviously it is not the end of the world - a similar decision was rendered in the U.S. in 1991, and the U.S. phone directory business has not gone down in flames.

Sounds like a sensible man (1)

Spy Handler (822350) | more than 4 years ago | (#31133398)

this Aussie judge.

We should have Outback Steakhouse ship him to the U.S. in their next shipment and let him trim down our insane Disney-sponsored copyright laws.

Re:Sounds like a sensible man (1)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 4 years ago | (#31133434)

Judges interpret the law. Going by some other US posters here the US may be ahead of Australia in this area. I hear sometimes about US Judges being strongly identified with their political background. While this can happen in Australia I don't believe it is as widespread.

Re:Sounds like a sensible man (1)

jonadab (583620) | more than 4 years ago | (#31133568)

That would be redundant. Our "insane Disney-sponsored" copyright law in the US has already been in full agreement with this ruling for years.

Maybe Australian courts will confirm Bridgeman next.

Re:Sounds like a sensible man (1)

mindwhip (894744) | more than 4 years ago | (#31133596)

Fact1: Mickey is a mouse
Fact2: To draw his ears you use 2 circles beside each other and a semicircle joining them below.
Non Fact: any actual drawing of 2 circles and a semicircle as described in fact2?

Re:Sounds like a sensible man (1)

jonadab (583620) | more than 4 years ago | (#31133640)

You're using the word "fact" in a way that would not hold up in court, in either the US or Australia, or probably any other common-law country.

If you look at the Australian court ruling, we're talking about dry non-creative stuff like a list of all the phone numbers in a given area code and the names associated with each. Such things are not copyrightable in the US either, because absolutely no creativity is involved in creating them.

Re:Sounds like a sensible man (1)

Schmorgluck (1293264) | more than 4 years ago | (#31133842)

IANAL, but I think my grasp on civil-law legal systems is sufficient for me to add that such a use of the word "fact" would not hold there either.

The copyright industry is already way ahead of you (1)

SmallFurryCreature (593017) | more than 4 years ago | (#31133620)

The copyright industry is already way ahead of you. They have decided that this man should be shown as an example in courts around the world. There are a lot of courts, so they had to cut him up pretty small, but in a way, that only makes the example more clear.

Evil, it is a lot easier when you realize you have no soul.

Re:Sounds like a sensible man (1, Informative)

sictransitgloriacfa (1739280) | more than 4 years ago | (#31133712)

While I agree that Justice Gordon is sensible, I'm pretty sure the Honorable Michelle Marjorie Gordon (photo [unimelb.edu.au] ) is not a man.

Mention IceTV in summary but not DMS (1)

Wild Wizard (309461) | more than 4 years ago | (#31133402)

Interesting that the summary mentions IceTV but fails to mention the exact same problem that DMS had with Telstra over their phonedisc product.

If someone would like to do some serious reading to find out why DMS lost but PDC won that might actually be useful.

Re:Mention IceTV in summary but not DMS (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31133678)

Haven't read up on DMS too much, but the main difference between the current case and DMS was that DMS never contested the copyright of the directories. They were arguing on other grounds.
Interestingly, the decision is this case isn't so much that facts aren't copyrightable, but rather that labor intensive and seemingly creative representations of such facts aren't necessarily worthy of copyright. The main gist from the Judge is that, with almost all the entire process of collating data, formatting text, laying out ads, etc being performed by computer, they couldn't determine that an actual human author or authors did enough intellectual or literary effort to qualify it for copyright.
The only things humans did was to fiddle with some checkboxes to make stuff bold, mechanically checking ads to ensure they fit set criteria, and ensuring that the computer spit out sane representations. Apparently that's not enough intellectual effort to afford the result copyright protection.

Re:Mention IceTV in summary but not DMS (1)

LukeWebber (117950) | more than 4 years ago | (#31133742)

To be honest, I'd prefer that the phone book was not up for grabs. What happens is that people will take it and index it and then you get debt collectors and private investigators calling you and asking and asking questions about your neighbours. Illegal? Yes, but it happens. And anybody who knows your phone number can find out where you live. A win for common sense? Maybe, but also a loss for privacy.
And the suckers actually charge you extra not to list your number. Can't we have just a little bit of privacy? Sheesh!

Re:Mention IceTV in summary but not DMS (1)

demonlapin (527802) | more than 4 years ago | (#31134068)

anybody who knows your phone number can find out where you live.

Only if they work for the government or the phone company. Just buy a prepaid cellular phone for cash - they can track you when it's on, but that's it.

THE POWER OF GOATSE COMPELS YOU (-1, Offtopic)

Fanboy Fantasies (917592) | more than 4 years ago | (#31133418)


*_g_o_a_t_s_e_x_*_g_o_a_t_s_e_x_*_g_o_a_t_s_e_x_*_
g_______________________________________________g_ _
o_/_____\_____________\____________/____\_______o_ _
a|_______|_____________\__________|______|______a_ _
t|_______`._____________|_________|_______:_____t_ _
s`________|_____________|________\|_______|_____s_ _
e_\_______|_/_______/__\\\___--___\\_______:____e_ _
x__\______\/____--~~__________~--__|_\_____|____x_ _
*___\______\_-~____________________~-_\____|____*_ _
g____\______\_________.--------.______\|___|____g_ _
o______\_____\______//_________(_(__>__\___|____o_ _
a_______\___.__C____)_________(_(____>__|__/____a_ _
t_______/\_|___C_____)/INSERT\_(_____>__|_/_____t_ _
s______/_/\|___C_____)_GERBIL|__(___>___/__\____s_ _
e_____|___(____C_____)\_HERE_/__//__/_/_____\___e_ _
x_____|____\__|_____\\_________//_(__/_______|__x_ _
*____|_\____\____)___`----___--'_____________|__*_ _
g____|__\______________\_______/____________/_|_g_ _
o___|______________/____|_____|__\____________|_o_ _
a___|_____________|____/_______\__\___________|_a_ _
t___|__________/_/____|_________|__\___________|t_ _
s___|_________/_/______\__/\___/____|__________|s_ _
e__|_________/_/________|____|_______|_________|e_ _
x__|__________|_________|____|_______|_________|x_ _
*_g_o_a_t_s_e_x_*_g_o_a_t_s_e_x_*_g_o_a_t_s_e_x_*_


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What about... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31133486)

Re:What about... (2, Informative)

JorDan Clock (664877) | more than 4 years ago | (#31133556)

That's a collection of facts based on a creative work. This kind of ruling doesn't apply to that. The creative work is already copyrighted and thus protected from such reproductions.

Trivial Pursuit (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31133508)

So *now* can I make that searchable, tagged web database of every question and answer from Trivial Pursuit? It'd be a boon for trivia nights.

Re:Trivial Pursuit (1)

darinfp (907671) | more than 4 years ago | (#31133560)

Prior art.... Google.

Re:Trivial Pursuit (2, Insightful)

Kalriath (849904) | more than 4 years ago | (#31133588)

Sure, as long as you don't mention the trademarked term "Trivial Pursuit" anywhere.

Re:Trivial Pursuit (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31133926)

He can mention Trivial Pursuit as much as he wants as long it's clear that it not an "official site".

Re:Trivial Pursuit (1)

Sowelu (713889) | more than 4 years ago | (#31133996)

While the answers to the questions may be uncopyrightable facts, the collection of QUESTIONS, are not--they are clearly a creative work, because creative selection went into them. A phone book on the other hand, doesn't have the same creative element: "Who are all the people within this location" versus "What questions might be fun to make people guess".

On TV-guides (1)

Max Romantschuk (132276) | more than 4 years ago | (#31133576)

IANAL, but if you ask me the time and name of the program is a fact. The description/synapsis/call it what you will, is not. So I guess it's OK to publish the asctual schedule of a channel, or scrape the channel's official guide. But I'm sure that scraping a publication's TV-guide and basically copying it is more of copyright infringement and less of publishing facts.

This does bring up an interesting issue. Pharmaceutical companies are apparently applying patents for genes these days. Aren't the DNA base sequences of any gene a fact if anything?

Re:On TV-guides (1)

John Hasler (414242) | more than 4 years ago | (#31133970)

> This does bring up an interesting issue. Pharmaceutical companies are
> apparently applying patents for genes these days. Aren't the DNA base
> sequences of any gene a fact if anything?

Yes, and therefor, despite what the newsies say, it is not actually the genes that are patented.

Re:On TV-guides (1)

Sowelu (713889) | more than 4 years ago | (#31133974)

Patents are not the same as copyrights.

Football fixtures (1)

mfraz74 (1151215) | more than 4 years ago | (#31133614)

Does this mean I'm now free to publish lists of football fixtures on my website? The FA emailed me a few years ago to say that the information is copyright.

Re:Football fixtures (1)

jklovanc (1603149) | more than 4 years ago | (#31133808)

I would say yes if you live in Australia or the US; a date and time that two teams will play is a fact and under this ruling a fact or list of facts is not copyrightable.

Re:Football fixtures (1)

mfraz74 (1151215) | more than 4 years ago | (#31133870)

Unfortunately I live in the UK so I presume that ruling doesn't apply?

Of course Financial Data cannot be published (1)

DrScotsman (857078) | more than 4 years ago | (#31133630)

Financial Data isn't kept secret due to copyright laws, it's done so due to data protection laws. Surely I'm not wrong in assuming Australia has those? (Or the US for that matter, as I assume the submitter is from).

Re:Of course Financial Data cannot be published (2, Informative)

Xugumad (39311) | more than 4 years ago | (#31133816)

I believe the submitter was talking about stock market prices. While end of day prices are readily available, high precision data (the sort of stuff you'd need if you're backtesting automated traders, for example) is fairly pricey. For example, CBOE back data:

http://www.marketdataexpress.com/servicePriceList.aspx [marketdataexpress.com]

runs to about $200/month per symbol, or $1,250/month for all available options, for per-tick quotes. Of course, a lot of what you're paying for is the knowledge that the information is correct, and there are cheaper options (for example many real time data feeds come with some amount of historical data, and you can always collect information over time) if you're happy dealing with the data integrity issues yourself.

Re:Of course Financial Data cannot be published (1)

jklovanc (1603149) | more than 4 years ago | (#31133818)

Financial information in SEC filings and from stock tickers probably can be published and not copyrighted.

Re:Of course Financial Data cannot be published (1)

stormboy (1691754) | more than 4 years ago | (#31133828)

The suggestion in summary about financial data is, as Australian's might say, a "Furphy".

Sensitive data like your bank transactions are not protected through copyright, but trust arrangements/contract between parties, and privacy laws.

Financial data information, such as public company profit and loss statements would surely be reproducible without copyright constraints. Then again accountants have been known to be creative

Conclusion: Free movies (1)

paxcoder (1222556) | more than 4 years ago | (#31133676)

One could argue they're just processed info about the light on different parts of the set at given times.
Australian govt. is weird.

Re:Conclusion: Free movies (1)

Fantastic Lad (198284) | more than 4 years ago | (#31133762)

One could argue they're just processed info about the light on different parts of the set at given times.
Australian govt. is weird.

Hm. I was thinking the same thing, (including the 'weird' part), but then I realized, "Yes, but the movie set itself represents a creative manipulation of light, as does the post processing from color correction to CGI. Nobody in the public can go out privately and re-collect those same bits of light instance. They are gone. Whereas a phone book is different; anybody can compile their own list of phone numbers. They are not creatively modified. The only argument for creativity the phone companies might have a shot at selling is that they had to invent the phone numbers assigned to customers in the first place, but that's a stretch, particularly since that whole process is automated. Can a photo editing program lay claim to the light patterns emitted by the software?

In any case, the spirit of the law in both cases is quite different, and that's what it's all supposed to be about.

Interesting.

-FL

This is nice for Australia (2, Interesting)

Sique (173459) | more than 4 years ago | (#31133696)

In Germany and other EU countries there is special wording in the Author's Right (Urheberrecht) to protect databases even if the single entry in the database is not protected. So while in Germany facts are not protected by the Author's Right, databases of facts are.

Interestingly though since the addition of databases to the Author's Right in the 90ies the market share of EU based companies for databases has dwindled. This is probably pure coincidence.

The movie 2012 (4, Funny)

Sneeze1066 (1574313) | more than 4 years ago | (#31133770)

...was that fact? Just want to clarify before I download it.

Financial data and what not are protected under (1)

VShael (62735) | more than 4 years ago | (#31133794)

a different set of laws. Your bank doesn't keep your account details private because of copyright law.

Re:Financial data and what not are protected under (1)

GrubLord (1662041) | more than 4 years ago | (#31133948)

Obviously, yes - but what about the kind of data day-traders use, for instance?

Companies are charging a lot of money for what is essentially access to facts about the value of stocks, commodities and currency over time.

If someone were to pay for this service, get the data, and then make these same facts freely available via his or her website... would that be legal under this ruling?

So we can copy maps (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31133944)

So if we take that literally, we can copy maps, text from encyclopedias, and non-fiction books I guess.

just common sense (1)

l3v1 (787564) | more than 4 years ago | (#31134016)

I'd say this ruling is just following common sense. If you gather data that is already available, and put them in a database, that in itself should not be copyrightable. If you make some data representation from those, like charts, tables, or draw some conclusions that are not obvious, those should be copyrightable, since those are results of your own work. Nobody should be allowed to retain any rigths over anything that is just another pile of the same heap.

There was also a comment about hey, now we can copy maps, which I is totally flawed. Going along the line of my ideas above, a map is a representation of some data that is freely available, but since it's not a database, but a graphical interpretation and representation of that database, I don't have anything against retaining rights over that representation. The important thing is to keep in mind, that _anyone_ can make a map of hir/her own and sell it and retain rights over it. But one shouldn't be allowed to retain any rigths over the geographical data.

As I began with, I can only say, it's just common sense.
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