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Hotel Being Sued for Using the Dewey Decimal System

CmdrTaco posted more than 11 years ago | from the who-knew dept.

News 419

cbull writes "Did you know the Dewey Decimal System isn't in the public domain? The rights are owned by the Online Computer Library Center. They are suing the Library Hotel in New York for trademark infringement. In addition, according to the article, libraries pay at least $500/year to use the system."

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well damn! (2, Funny)

flyneye (84093) | more than 11 years ago | (#7017687)

i would like to copyright all the prime numbers.

Re:well damn! (1, Funny)

Wooky_linuxer (685371) | more than 11 years ago | (#7017701)

Too late, I've already patented all numbers ( in all bases including binary) and all counting systems. All your bits are belong to me.

Interesting idea (1)

soccerisgod (585710) | more than 11 years ago | (#7017735)

Im pretty sure god and the US gov will sue you for prior art though...

This could be good (4, Insightful)

Ryosen (234440) | more than 11 years ago | (#7017690)

Just one more reason to do away with an antiquated filing system.

Re:This could be good (4, Interesting)

ahfoo (223186) | more than 11 years ago | (#7017813)

No doubt. The DDC is such a pain in the ass when you're used to LOC. I am also suprised to find tht it's still being licensed. I thought the only people still using it were in countries that didn't want to submit to LOC guidelines because their own copyright laws were uhm, different.
I know that's the case here in Taiwan. I was shocked to find major research universities using DDC and then when I began working with a publisher I learned that it had a lot to do with copyright and the LOC. In fact, I taught classes on using the LOC at one point for students preparing to go overseas.
But personally I find the DDC obnoxious and far more of an obstacle to research than a helpful classification system.

Re:This could be good (1)

Ed Avis (5917) | more than 11 years ago | (#7017851)

What's the 'copyright problem' you refer to with LOC? From the sound of things it couldn't be any worse than Dewey.

Re:This could be good (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#7017886)

Both Dewey and Library of Congress are "divide and conquer" stratergies - that is, you split the search space into smaller and smaller chunks until you find what you're looking for.

This is an acceptable solution when you're searching on paper or your search sapce isn't that large, but today we have computers and far more data.

For example, "Algorithms in C" is a classic text a lot of people here probably own.

But does it belong under "math", "computer science", or "computer languages -> C"? (Dewey seperates Computing out into a seperate category, rather than placing it under math).

The answer, of course, is all three.

The ideal system would be a free-text search of all the books in the catalogue. But until we can do that, keywords and searchable abstracts are more useful than categories. Just put the damn books on the shelf in order of author.

Re:This could be good (2, Insightful)

TWX (665546) | more than 11 years ago | (#7017910)

I never liked LOC, but I was taught Dewey. I could walk into a Dewey library that was properly signed (by number range) and find anything that I wanted, without having to consult the catalog. When I got to college, I had to deal with the college having three libraries, with different segments being in different buildings (ie, science library, law library) without being labelled as such in the catalog, only to get up and over to the section in the main library where the segment would be in order, to find a sign saying that those books were in the other building.

Needless to say, this implementation gave me a particular distain for LOC, and even if it is a better system, I don't think that I'll ever like it.

Alternatives? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#7017875)


I'm curious about what you suggest as a replacement.

Is it the age of the system that bothers you, or are there specific flaws in Dewey's approach that you think should be addressed?

Re:Alternatives? (1)

oscitant (605324) | more than 11 years ago | (#7017911)

Library of Congress call number for normal stuff; Sudoc numbers for gov't publications.

Fees for this? (5, Funny)

Martin Blank (154261) | more than 11 years ago | (#7017691)

Next thing you know, someone's going to start charging for Linux.

Oh, wait...

Re:Fees for this? (1)

isorox (205688) | more than 11 years ago | (#7017763)

Next thing you know, someone's going to start charging for Linux.

Or International Standard country codes.

Ahh.

nice quote inside the article (1)

selderrr (523988) | more than 11 years ago | (#7017700)

"At a minimum, if they want to continue to use it, there certainly has to be some sort of a license to the Library Hotel," he said. "We're not interested in putting the hotel out of business."

___P>

I suppose ___P> is phonetics for foot-in-mouth ?

340 (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#7017707)

Dewey Decimal for Law books. They're gonna need it.

wow (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#7017708)

thats odd, but funny i wonder when it'll be in the public domain

Speechless (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#7017712)

Simply speechless, i dont even know what to say to this.

wheel (0, Troll)

potpie (706881) | more than 11 years ago | (#7017717)

I've often wondered if I could patent the wheel and axle... of the inclined plane- that was mine too.

Re:wheel (1)

BabyDave (575083) | more than 11 years ago | (#7017849)

Sorry dude, but someone's beaten you to it [bbc.co.uk]

Re:wheel (1)

potpie (706881) | more than 11 years ago | (#7017909)

ok so i guess somebody on the other side of the world just happened to try what I jokingly said. Does that truly warrant a point deduction?!

More like the "screw" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#7017916)

As in "You have been"

Out of business (4, Insightful)

larien (5608) | more than 11 years ago | (#7017719)

We're not interested in putting the hotel out of business.
Er, so why are you suing for "triple the hotel's profits since its opening or triple the organization's damages, whichever is greater"? Yes, they're willing to settle, but to be honest, the first line should have been a lawyer's letter, not filing a complaint. I can only assume that the lawyers can charge more for filing a complaint so they advised them to file rather than discuss.

or maybe... (1)

Karma Sucks (127136) | more than 11 years ago | (#7017801)

...you didn't read the article? they did send a couple of letters over a period of years.

dumbass.

Re:Out of business (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#7017842)

> The lawsuit said the center sent three letters to
> Kallan from October 2000 to October 2002, asking
> for acknowledgment of Online's ownership of the
> Dewey trademarks, but the hotel owner didn't respond.

So, um, that's not enough in the way of "first they should send a letter"?

Re:Out of business (4, Informative)

signe (64498) | more than 11 years ago | (#7017850)

Read the article first, please.

The lawsuit said the center sent three letters to Kallan from October 2000 to October 2002, asking for acknowledgment of Online's ownership of the Dewey trademarks, but the hotel owner didn't respond.

While I agree the hotel should pay the back licensing fees, I think this lawsuit is a little excessive. But given that they said letters were sent, it's probably just to get the hotel's attention. The OCLC even says at the bottom of the article that they're looking to settle, and they don't want the hotel to go out of business. They just want a licensing agreement.

I've been to the Library Hotel. It's a really nice place. Yes, the books play an integral part in the ambiance of the hotel. But the use of the Dewey Decimal System is hardly the biggest thing they've got going for them, or the most important. They could easily drop the DDC classifications of the floors and rooms and the hotel would lose nothing by it.

-Todd

their site sucks (0)

gritz (527004) | more than 11 years ago | (#7017725)

i hate auto resizers >:(

Re:their site sucks (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#7017847)

Edit -> Preferences -> Advanced -> Scripts & Plugins

Uncheck "Move or resize existing windows"

Open source, anyone? (1)

dostalgic (701463) | more than 11 years ago | (#7017726)

Yet another example of IPR gone awry. Anyone interested in starting a Sourceforge project for an open source classification system?

Re:Open source, anyone? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#7017814)

open source already has a classificatin system:
  • planning stage (we thought up a name and signed up teh project at sourceforge!)
  • waiting stage (waiting for other people to do all the work)
  • alpha stage (linus just switched VM or FS subsystems)
  • release stage (some company released their 20 year old software as open source)

Re:Open source, anyone? (1)

FrankoBoy (677614) | more than 11 years ago | (#7017839)

This one's not open source but at least it's public domain AFAIK : the Library of Congress classification system [loc.gov] .

I've already done a Web site with content classified under Dewey rules, so that means I could have get sued ? Gee, that IP Scheisse is getting sillier by the day...

Re:Open source, anyone? (1)

phallux (707031) | more than 11 years ago | (#7017872)

No need to reinvent the wheel. Since the use of physical cards, paper, or books is obviously an obsolete method of cataloging in the electronic era, the following are likely what future cataloging systems will look like (based on XML, of course):

W3C's RDF Specification: http://www.w3.org/RDF [w3.org]

Dublin Core: http://dublincore.org [dublincore.org]

School library (5, Informative)

Leffe (686621) | more than 11 years ago | (#7017727)

Hmm... from what I've found out about DDC, it seems like my school library uses it.

I really doubt they have a license. And there's no way to find out until tuesday... I can't wait!

Oh, and here's a nice intro on DDC:

http://www.oclc.org/dewey/versions/ddc22print/intr o.pdf [oclc.org]
(Why is there a space between the 'r' and 'o'?)

A better history (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#7017868)

I found this history of the DDS at A History of the Dewey Decimal System [slais.ubc.ca]

I found this line most interesting: He originated the DDC in 1873 and had it published and patented in 1876.

Doesn't that mean that it should now be in the public domain since the patent has expired?

Re:A better history (1)

Leffe (686621) | more than 11 years ago | (#7017933)

You can unfortunately repatent them, a patent only lasts 20 or 30 years. Or something like that.

Connections (5, Insightful)

mopslik (688435) | more than 11 years ago | (#7017730)

From the article:

"A person who came to their Web site and looked at the way (the hotel) is promoted and marketed would think they were passing themselves off as connected with the owner of the Dewey Decimal Classification system."

Don't you think that a person browsing the website might just think "Oh, they're a theme hotel"?

On the other hand, if libraries have to license it, then I guess that's how it works.

Re:Connections (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#7017825)

Don't you think that a person browsing the website might just think "Oh, they're a theme hotel"?

What do you think people are, mind readers? It's just like how Spike TV is *obviously* trying to make money off of Spike Lee's name.

These lawsuits are vital in reminding us of things that have since been forgotten, like the Dewey Decimal system and Spike Lee.

Trademarked? (2, Interesting)

PipianJ (574459) | more than 11 years ago | (#7017732)

How can you trademark the Dewey Decimal System? Sounds more like a patentable system to me... So how did it get filed under the trademark category? (Nice to know they've registered it under the one class of IP which never expires as long as you pay. I mean, look, it says it was created in 1873!)

Re:Trademarked? (3, Informative)

squiggleslash (241428) | more than 11 years ago | (#7017807)

You can't trademark the system, but you can trademark "Dewey Decimal System". I assume that they're refering to the latter. They certainly can't trademark the system at all, because the system itself is based on numbers, and you can't trademark numbers. As Intel found out, hence the "Pentium" rather than the "80586".

Re:Trademarked? (5, Insightful)

GnrcMan (53534) | more than 11 years ago | (#7017815)

I think they trademarked the term "Dewey Decimal System". The objection isn't to the use of the system itself (even if it was patented, I doubt the patent would extend to hotel room clasification) it's that the website uses the term (or trademark) Dewey Decimal System all over it.

Re:Trademarked? (2, Interesting)

BabyDave (575083) | more than 11 years ago | (#7017828)

They can (and presumably have) trademarked the name "Dewey Decimal" as relating to classification systems. As for the system itself, I don't think trademarking or patenting apply (at least not now, as the patent would long since have expired). I'd presume that the particular system would be copyrighted, in that you can't use that system or one sufficiently similar to it without permission.

Of course, if it were patented, we'd all be protesting about yet another damn silly patent - categorising books based on their subjects and then giving each subject a number, yeah that's really non-obvious.

Re:Trademarked? (1)

91degrees (207121) | more than 11 years ago | (#7017848)

You can certainly trademark "Dewey Decimal System". What the hotel is doing is using the same system for its room numbers, and naming them according to the subject that is referenced by that number.

I guess the point is that a person who came to their Web site and looked at the way the hotel is promoted and marketed could think they were passing themselves off as connected with the owner of the Dewey Decimal Classification system.

What's this part supposed to mean? (1)

Zakabog (603757) | more than 11 years ago | (#7017733)

u can ask for the defendant's profits, our view is since we have written to these people three different times, it was certainly intentional and it was certainly


we have no way of knowing until the discovery takes place how much their profits are


Looks like a slashdot editor added that in... but what's up with the usage of "u" instead of "You"?

Question (2, Interesting)

Hinkkanen (536643) | more than 11 years ago | (#7017734)


Does this mean that I'll have to pay if organise my book collection according to Dewey system?

Yes. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#7017779)

Yes.

Re:Question (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#7017834)

You are right, how can they get a trademark on that?

Imagine having to pay everytime an engineer/scientist/mathmatician integrates an equation or use any other calculous theorum/expression.

It appears to me that calculous is much more complex and usefull then the DDS. The entire trademark of the DDS just shows you the greedyness of American buisness.

There used to be a time when knowledge was sought after because of interest in a topic rather then making money (the great scientist/philosephers of old shaired information while not charging for the use of their theorums/postulets/equations)

Re:Question (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#7017923)

Ya but a lot of doctors and engineers of old didn't share, which is exactly why IP laws where created in the first place.

If you are the only doctor who knows how to cure something why tell your competition?! Just wait a noble gets sick and rake in the cash!

Or you know how to build the strongest lightest armor, are you gonna go publishing a howto our are you gong to keep it secret to yourself and your guild?

Happy Birthday (1)

careysb (566113) | more than 11 years ago | (#7017748)

I here you are also supposed to pay royalties when you sing the "Happy Birthday" song in public. Strange world.

Re:Happy Birthday (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#7017833)

hear. h ear. involves ears. think about it.

Re:Happy Birthday (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#7017883)

I here you are also supposed to pay royalties when you sing the "Happy Birthday" song in public. Strange world.

True [snopes.com]

How the hell? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#7017752)

Can you own a system of organization?

Is this saying that if I organize my collection of books into a system similar to that of Dewey's, I will get a Cease and Desist letter?

What have (4, Funny)

Timesprout (579035) | more than 11 years ago | (#7017755)

Hewey and Lewey got to say about this ?

Perhaps this is why. (1)

ggroth (237331) | more than 11 years ago | (#7017756)

I hadn't stepped into the local public library since college. On a recent visit it would seem that the Dewey Decimal System had been replaced with a different system using letters. No one present was sure of the reason for the change, giving a bunch of differing opinions depending on who I asked, perhaps this was the reason all along.

Re:Perhaps this is why. (2, Insightful)

alex_ant (535895) | more than 11 years ago | (#7017770)

Most libraries moved to the Library of Congress classification system in the mid '80s. Dewey is still around in libraries for books added before the switchover.

Re:Perhaps this is why. (2, Informative)

analog_line (465182) | more than 11 years ago | (#7017861)

It's the Library of Congress system, for reasons which should be fairly self explanatory. When I was in high school and during the summers in college, I worked at my local library. During about 4-5 years of time, I and several other people went about the arduous task of methodically stripping the plastic protector off of each hardcover's dust jacket, peel the Dewey Decimal label off, apply the correct LOC label, doublecheck that the right LOC label was applied, put a new plastic covering on the dust jacket (harder than you may think) and reshelve it in the constantly expanding and moving LOC section. All the while with confused patrons complaining because they're utterly used to the old Dewey method and the new fangled thing is throwing them for a loop. They spent FAR more than $500/year doing this switchover, just on how much they paid me on any given year I was there.

Support your local library, btw, even in the days of the Patriot Act. Librarians are good people, and get a bad rap for being boring that they just don't deserve. Go browse around, most libraries have a few comfortable chairs for reading if you don't feel comfortable creating a record that you checked a particular book out. Never know what you might find in a library. Working at my library was one of the best times in my life.

Re:Perhaps this is why. (1)

analog_line (465182) | more than 11 years ago | (#7017925)

In case you're interested in how exactly the LCC (Library of Congress Classification) works, check out this page [loc.gov] at the Library of Congress' website. Shows a complete breakdown of how it works, what all the categories are, etc.

Next thing... (1)

VEGx (576738) | more than 11 years ago | (#7017757)

...someone starts charging for using alphabet. :-\

Please, tell me that at least that won't happen... or only for letters "a" and "o"...

Re:Next thing... (2, Funny)

rhiorg (213355) | more than 11 years ago | (#7017791)

No, just for the letters "S" "C" and "O".

Re:Next thing... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#7017802)

No, the only letters you will have to pay a license to use will be the S, the C and the O.

Re:Next thing... (1)

perreira (176114) | more than 11 years ago | (#7017855)

And if you happen to live in Germany, you also have to pay for the letter T (like T-Com, former Telekom, former Post)...

There is now some stupid domain wars going on, T-COm i sueing poeple with domains like t-bag.de ...

Only one solution ... (1)

BabyDave (575083) | more than 11 years ago | (#7017758)

Send for Conan The Librarian [imdb.com]

I never trusted any decimal system (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#7017760)

Just the thin end of the wedge used to jam the metric system down our throats.

As Einstein once said... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#7017761)

"Reality is merely an illusion, albeit a very persistent one."

It's that simple.

hah (4, Funny)

yoshi1013 (674815) | more than 11 years ago | (#7017765)

"Excuse me, where can I find a book on astronomy?"

"Don't you know the Dewey Decimal System????"

CONAN THE LIBRARIAN!

What do you expect (-1, Troll)

jstroebele (596628) | more than 11 years ago | (#7017768)

This is what you can expect from a left leaning company that puts a picture of a 'sister' on there front page, just a bunch of sue happy red diaper doper babies. Thank god for liberals

MOD UP +5 INSIGHTFUL (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#7017878)

That is all. Thankyou.

LoC Classification (2, Interesting)

EngrBohn (5364) | more than 11 years ago | (#7017774)

They really should use The Library of Congress' Classification [loc.gov] -- it's currently in use by (most?) libraries, and no one owns a trademark on it!

Re:LoC Classification (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#7017856)

They really should use The Library of Congress' Classification -- it's currently in use by (most?) libraries, and no one owns a trademark on it!

That is the USA's Library of Congress. The EU will need to make a competing format to ensure that the US Library Of Congress can't sue them for infringement if they someday choose to. We can't be having our organizations use a system able to be shut down at the drop of some US politician's hat now can we?

Re:LoC Classification (1)

dk.r*nger (460754) | more than 11 years ago | (#7017871)

They really should use The Library of Congress' Classification -- it's currently in use by (most?) libraries, and no one owns a trademark on it!

Yeah - but then they'd have to spend two floors on American History. I'm sure they'd rather have an "Erotic literature" room to a "Missouri Compromise" room.

Re:LoC Classification (2, Funny)

perp (114928) | more than 11 years ago | (#7017896)

National pride will probably prevent countries other than the US from using a system that divides the history of the world into:

D -- HISTORY (GENERAL) AND HISTORY OF EUROPE
E -- HISTORY: AMERICA
F -- HISTORY: AMERICA

While I'm sure the LOC system works fine for the Library of Congress, it does not seem to be widely applicable enough to replace the Dewey Decimal Sysem around the world.

Incidentally, I am shocked that use of the DDC requires royalties more than 100 years after its invention.

I don't get it... (2, Insightful)

Hortensia Patel (101296) | more than 11 years ago | (#7017776)

What "rights" are they talking about here? That is, what sort of IP is being licensed?

Patents would make a sort of sense, but Dewy Decimal dates back to 1873, so it can't be a patent. Copyright doesn't seem to apply since there isn't obviously a "work" being copied.

What gives? Is it just a matter of the trademark?

Re:I don't get it... (1)

Hortensia Patel (101296) | more than 11 years ago | (#7017835)

Oops. Yeah, yeah. RTFP...

How is this even possible? (4, Interesting)

tbase (666607) | more than 11 years ago | (#7017777)

According to this page, Melvil Dewey (1851-1931) anonymously published the system in 1876.

On the other hand, it seems that the Online Compyter Library Center does do quite a bit of work to maintain the system, which should entitle them to some rights - but it sure seems that if some guy published something anonymously in 1876, he probably intended it to be in the public domain. Seems to me, if the hotel was based on the original system, and not the one improved by subsequent owners, he should be ok - especially if they referred to it as the "Melvil Dewey System" or something.

I had no idea it was owned - how come they aren't going after the elementary schools that teach the system? Or is that included in their library's license? And how come we're teaching a proprietary, trademarked system? Next thing you know, they'll be teaching our kids Windows!!!

Re:How is this even possible? (1)

Henry Stern (30869) | more than 11 years ago | (#7017864)

According to this page, Melvil Dewey (1851-1931) anonymously published the system in 1876.


You'd think that it would be in the public domain by now, wouldn't you?

Re:How is this even possible? (1)

dAzED1 (33635) | more than 11 years ago | (#7017891)

Dewey didn't in 1876 do the work of adding 100,000 books to the system last year. So if someone wants to use the general idea he put out all those years ago - fine. This group does considerable work each year - adding all the new books to the system, making them at least somewhat referencable, and helping the various libraries out with loans. There are millions and millions of books catagorized in the system now, and its that IP that they own, and share with libraries. In exchange, they ask for a small amount of money to use the system.
So someone explain to me why this is newsworthy? Seems pretty damn straight forward to me. Don't live off someone else's work. Are people not allowed to get paid for what they do?

Re:How is this even possible? (1)

acceleriter (231439) | more than 11 years ago | (#7017917)

So called "non-profits" shouldn't be allowed to be "paid for what they do," no. Nor should they be allowed to hold intellectual "property."

Re:How is this even possible? (1)

Meowing (241289) | more than 11 years ago | (#7017903)

it sure seems that if some guy published something anonymously in 1876, he probably intended it to be in the public domain.

Nope. Then, as now, there were provisions to leave one's name off a published work and still retain copyright. This is what Dewey did. He published it through a company he controlled.

elementary schools that teach the system? Or is that included in their library's license?

Yep. Training materials have long been a part of it.

And how come we're teaching a proprietary, trademarked system?

Nearly everything you'll find in a library is proprietary, copyrighted material. The system is taught because it's what many libraries use, and people need to know how to find stuff in them.

Alternatives are now available, such as the Library of Congress system, and a number of newer libraries, notably in academentia, do use it. The cost of replacing the catalog for an existing collection has to be weighed against the price of Dewey manuals, though.

Bullshit (4, Interesting)

rde (17364) | more than 11 years ago | (#7017780)

"A person who came to their Web site and looked at the way (the hotel) is promoted and marketed would think they were passing themselves off as connected with the owner of the Dewey Decimal Classification system."

Yeah, right. If I was particularly jetlagged, drunk or whatever, I might pop up to the counter and ask to speak to Melvil Dewey. But I'm sure I'm not alone in that I never even considered that a numeric system invented in the next-to-previous century would still be owned today, much less that anyone who used it would be representative of that owner.

It's lucky that I'm ambivalent about my primary school; when I was there, I organised the books according to the Dewey system. If I were at all bitter, I'd rat them out, and not just becuase the 098 section was completely empty.

Oh, and here's something funny. In my research for this comment, I typed 'dewey 098' into google to see if it still meant what I thought it did.
098 is for forbidden books. Now that you know that google for 'dewey 098' while you're feeling lucky.

Created in 1873? (5, Interesting)

MunchMunch (670504) | more than 11 years ago | (#7017783)

Now hold on--The article itself states that "Melvil Dewey created the most widely used library classification system in 1873."

Anything from before the 1920s should be in the public domain, even if nothing after that will ever go into the public domain. I mean, was there indeed some perpetual copyright clause slipped into some bill or another? How could anybody otherwise still own the rights to this?

Re:Created in 1873? (3, Informative)

annodomini (544503) | more than 11 years ago | (#7017929)

That's copyright you're thinking of. According to the article, they are suing for trademark infringement. Trademarks are perpetual; they last forever, as long as you don't allow them to be diluted. That's why companies like Warner Brothers sue their fans for having websites with Harry Potter in their domain name. They don't want there to be a chance of their trademark being diluted to the point where they no longer have control over it.

How is this NOT public domain? (2, Interesting)

JayBlalock (635935) | more than 11 years ago | (#7017789)

I'm not being some sort of commu-terrorist, I'm trying to figure this out. The Dewey system was invented in the 1870s. It's something around 130 years old. How can it POSSIBLY still have its rights tied up? I thought until around 1930 our Congress was still rational enough to see that having things going to the Public Domain was a good thing.

Re:How is this NOT public domain? (3, Funny)

sgb235 (686043) | more than 11 years ago | (#7017803)

The rights to it were bought by SCO.

Re:whichever it is, it should have expired (2, Interesting)

dpbsmith (263124) | more than 11 years ago | (#7017804)

I had the same reaction.

If the Dewey Decimal system is copyrighted, the copyright should have expired.

If it's patented, it should have expired.

And if it's trademarked, there shouldn't be any problem, since they don't call themselves the "Dewey Decimal Hotel."

Re:whichever it is, it should have expired (1)

IM6100 (692796) | more than 11 years ago | (#7017844)

Tell that to the online sex toys site selling the 'Altivec' butt plugs.

library hotel (4, Funny)

ibmman85 (643041) | more than 11 years ago | (#7017790)

i like the erotica package detailed on their site.. sounds pretty good.. i dont think my girlfriend's parents would too much approve of us utilizing such facilities though and it probably costs more than the $2 that belongs to me. college. blah.

Why not use the LC system? (3, Insightful)

Wohali (57372) | more than 11 years ago | (#7017797)

My alma mater [yale.edu] uses the Library of Congress system [tlcdelivers.com] for numbering its books. Sure, it's not quite as simple for children to understand (a letter code, followed by numbers, then more letters), and is copyrighted, but as far as I know it's royalty-free to use.

This is going to destroy the hotel business (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#7017800)

That and the $10,000/year in license fees paid to the Mint family for the right to put a chocolate on your pillow.

Crap (1)

softspokenrevolution (644206) | more than 11 years ago | (#7017817)

Even though the Dewey Decimal system is the most counterintuitive and idiotic system in the world. Seriously, any time I go to a library (which used to be a lot since during high school my bus dropped me off at the library about ten miles from my house, until i could drive to school and then I moved away to college). If I needed to research something I would look through the subject on the search computers (which were ancient but they worked and they had all the books in there categorized). Then I would scratch my head at the Dewey Numbers, and go down the aisle and look through the alphabetical by author organization and find the book.

Seriously, that system is utterly useless beyond the overall categories it places books into, and even those are inelegant and I'm pretty sure tha tmy library (MIddleboro Public) breaks them up ijnto liitle bits, like European History, further from the Broad Dewey system categories.

That's really all that needs to be done, post up some stickers that show what the subject of the book is on a given set of shelves, and throw them in alphabetically by author, maybe give them a UPC and number those roughly in order, based on the library's preference.

Re:Crap (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#7017887)

Seriously, any time I go to a library (which used to be a lot since during high school my bus dropped me off at the library about ten miles from my house, until i could drive to school and then I moved away to college).

Why would anyone go to the library anymore when you have the Interweb? You can search for stuff much easier online and order any books you need from Amazon. Libraries are outdated and should be done away with in this modern age of sensitive intellectual property rights. I'm sure book publishers and the RIAA would love to see libraries cease to exist so people would stop stealing their material by reading/listening to it and not paying for it.

Re:Crap (1)

91degrees (207121) | more than 11 years ago | (#7017939)

Surely the point of the DDS is simply that books are arranged in a consistent order, and books on the same topic are next to each other. You're not meant to try to work out the number. You look up the book you're after in a file card system, or on a computer. This gives a Dewey Decimal number. You can then find the books with that number on the shelves fairly simply using a simple search. That's all it does, and it does it adequately.

Of course, the LoC system is a lot more logical (it doesn't stick books on computers next to books on parapsychology, for example). Switching does mean reclassifying and resorting every single book in a library though.

To sue or not to sue (2, Interesting)

maizena (640458) | more than 11 years ago | (#7017841)

I cannot understand why american companies are in this suing fury about copyright/trademark infringement.

It is really sad to see the world of business going this way.

They should try to look at it from a new angle and see the benefits they could have in a joint venture or by adopting a new business model.

How did they pick the damages??? (3, Interesting)

openbear (231388) | more than 11 years ago | (#7017846)

How on Earth did they pick the damages amount for this case?

From the CNN [cnn.com] story ...

"The complaint filed in U.S. District Court in Columbus seeks triple the hotel's profits since its opening or triple the organization's damages, whichever is greater, from the hotel's owner."

"Dreitler said Saturday he and his client do not yet know the size of the hotel's profits. The center, based in Dublin, is willing to settle with the hotel's owners, he said."
If this does not scream frivolous lawsuit (or lottery ticket lawsuit) then I don't know what does. I thought if you were suing someone for "damages" that you had pick an amount, not just claim "triple whatever is going to get me the most money".

This is more proof that the legal system in the US is severely broken and abused.

Re:How did they pick the damages??? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#7017931)

you know.. in some countries a lot of scriptkiddie/network harassment/hacking cases never make it to the court because the victim usually pulls the amount damages from his ass(and so if the cracker denies everything the case starts to suddenly look that it is not going to make it through the court and so gets dropped, why doesn't make it through? because the damages are a fantasy number and therefore it is unjust to use them as basis of judgement and people are innocent until proven guilty in court of law).

Oh good grief (3, Interesting)

SolemnDragon (593956) | more than 11 years ago | (#7017853)

I spent three years working in a library and learning the dewey decimal system. Three guesses how my home media are organised. (No, not by Soviet Russia or by Natalie Portman, who let you guys in here, anyway?) By dewey decimal, of course. And now i have to think about how much i really want to keep this system... i don't hold with the idea of having to license something so overwhelmingly widely used. (and i wasn't aware that our library paid a license fee. (In fact, i don't remember that in our expenses at all, which makes me wonder whether it fell under 'miscellaneous,' or whether our relatively-new library simply failed to bother...) either way, i feel that the system should be free (as in beer) because it's... a filing system used primarily by nonprofit entities, and of course that's only my fond wish, but i'm hoping that the next system will be free. Otherwise- Hold on while i go patent the alphabet as a filing system. And copyright it. Every keyboard company will be paying me money... heh heh heh....

oke. Back to subject. This leads me to the next question. How much sense does it make to make libraries pay for one more thing? And will the next step be to raise this license fee? Most libraries are struggling along as it is, so i hope not. There isn't enough storage and there isn't enough funding, and it drives me crazy to see book sales held sometimes, in those cases where it's just because there's no way to maintain the full shelves.

Let me rephrase this. Most libraries are non-profit entities. Five bucks a year isn't a lot of money, but it's money being charged for a standard system that would take a lot of time and effort to shift away from. Maybe derivative works should be allowed; if a hotel is using it for anything other than books, maybe it should be hailed as an innovative way to make people more aware of the system itself. But i'm willing to accept that the system 'owners' may have the legal right to collect... it's the obsessive nature of this particular instance that bothers me. *shrug* i could be way off-base.

So... the most important point here, i think, is: What's a better way? And how can we make it free to libraries and other non-profits?

it will never end. (1)

deft (253558) | more than 11 years ago | (#7017857)

"dear dewey guys"

we have immediately stopped using your system... but much to our horror and dismay, people keep putting the books right back where they got them from. if you would like us to mess em up a bit, let us know.

This is absurd. (5, Interesting)

An Onerous Coward (222037) | more than 11 years ago | (#7017858)

Even if the complaint was reasonable, the damages being sought are beyond absurd. Triple the profits the hotel has made since it opened? First, I can't imagine how the OCLC was damaged beyond the loss of revenue they would have gotten from a license. Second, I can't imagine that every cent of profit the hotel made over the last three years was a direct result of their use of the Dewey Decimal system. Perhaps some of it came from, I dunno, being conveniently placed in the middle of New York?

It would only make sense that they should have to prove that every customer who stayed there wouldn't have were it not for their use of the Dewey Decimal system.

It sounds like this non-profit actually serves a useful purpose, but I really hope that if this goes to court, their damages get capped at around $4500 (triple the money the hotel saved by not buying a license).

Text at Bottom of Page (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#7017870)

What's with the text at the bottom of the page? [newsday.com]

u can ask for the defendant's profits, our view is since we have written to these people three different times, it was certainly intentional and it was certainly


we have no way of knowing until the discovery takes place how much their profits are

Doesn't exactly sound professional does it?

Sue'ing Crazy (1, Interesting)

nite87 (709521) | more than 11 years ago | (#7017885)

This is just another example of people with money sue'ing other people for money. Whats next, the RAII sueing a 12 year old girl....oh, wait.

Obligatory Futurama Quote: (1)

Lyrrad (219543) | more than 11 years ago | (#7017895)

"Pathetic human race. Arranging their knowledge by category just made it easier to absorb. Dewey, you fool! Your decimal system has played right into my hands!"

-The Big Brain

500 Dollars per YEAR??? (1)

Denver_80203 (570689) | more than 11 years ago | (#7017905)

Oh Crap... I had better find a new way to organize my MP3s!

Let 'em know. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#7017935)

Tell them what you think about suing over a classification system developed over a century ago at webinput.oclc.org [mailto] . Shame that non-profit profiteering is eroding respect for the library profession.

It's a Trademark infringement case. (4, Informative)

ExRex (47177) | more than 11 years ago | (#7017938)

The suit is for trademark infringement, not copyright or patent infringement.

In the U.S. Trademark rights can be held indefinitely by the registrant, or it's successors in interest as in this case, with timely filing of required paperwork and paying of appropriate fees.

What I find amusing is that the designer's of the hotel clearly did not do their homework. The research branch of the New York Public Library doesn't even use the Dewey system. It uses the Library of Congress categories. Here's the NYPL's online catalog. [nypl.org] I guess the designer's went into the Library to look at the architecture, but didn't actually bother to call for a book, or even check the catalog. Had they, they wouldn't be in this pickle.

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