Copyright law

Jim Diederich dieder at MATH.UCDAVIS.EDU
Fri Nov 1 10:26:39 CST 1996

I think what Poole wrote is close to what Pamela Samuelson
says in her numerous articles in the Communications of the
ACM.  However, it is not the case that the intention of
the copyright laws is to protect the author.  If you read
Samuelson you will see that it is to promote the dissemination
of information.  While this is done by protecting authors
and so you may say I am splitting hairs, it is an important


Jim Diederich
Math Department
UC Davis
Davis, CA 95616
(916) 752-0892

On Fri, 1 Nov 1996, Robert Poole wrote:

> There seems to be some misinformation abroad about copyright law and its
> relationship to systematic information.  Copyright law does not apply to
> facts, only the presentation of those facts.  You may use the systematic
> information in a publication, but you cannot copy the form of its
> presentation.  To give an example near and dear to my heart, consider the
> Nomina Insecta Nearctica series, a check list of the insects of North
> America.  By copyright law anyone is free to use the information in these
> publications (or its electronic form when it appears) for whatever they
> wish.  However if someone were to copy the list and publish it or post it on
> the web, in whole or in part, without the permission of the copyright
> holder, this is violation of the copyright law.  There is no restriction in
> law, however, on duplicating the list by an independent compilation of the
> facts.  The only complication that could arise is if this new compilation is
> identical, or nearly identical, in content and presentation to the original.
> The purpose of copyright laws is to protect the work and intellectual effort
> of the publisher or authors of a work.  It does not restrict, in any way,
> access to the facts contained in that work.
> Robert W. Poole
> Entomological Information Services
> eis at
> P.O. Box 4350
> Rockville, Maryland 20849-4350
> 301-762-2612

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