[OT] copyrighting data (was Re: OT: Online auctins an institution?)

From: Eric Smith <eric_at_brouhaha.com>
Date: Tue Dec 22 13:33:23 1998

I wrote about the trend in the US to broaden coverage of copyrights, including
applying it to raw data.

Hans replies:

> Just tell me you are joking - next time someone copyrights the
> number 5 and you have to pay to use it ? C'mon, they CAN'T
> copyright data - only representations ... It can't go that
> way.

I'm sure that no court would rule that a single number such as "5" can
be copyrighted. The idea is that a >collection< of data can be copyrighted,
in the abstract. This is bad, but it seems to be happening more and more.

They *almost* passed a law recently that would have allowed companies that
publish databases collected by the US Government (paid for by our tax dollars)
to own the copyright not just to their publication of the data, but to the
data itself, so that no one else could publish the same data. :-( Fortunately
this provision was removed at the last minute. The companies that would have
benefitted have said that they will keep trying to get it enacted.

One of the scariest things about the way the US Congress works is that
the conference committees that resolve the differences between the
House of Representatives and the Senate versions of a bill often reinsert
things that were struck out and not in the final version of either bill.
Then they send the conference version back to the House and Senate, where
it is approved by a voice vote by Congressmen who haven't even looked at
the new version. In the most recent session of Congress this was used to
enact a new law permitting roving wiretaps, even though the idea didn't
get any support when it was debated in the House. :-(

Anyhow, we've gotten way the heck off topic now, so I'd suggest we drop

Received on Tue Dec 22 1998 - 13:33:23 GMT

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