Copyright (was PDFs and tapeworm descriptions)

Eric Dunbar erdunbar at MAC.COM
Wed May 15 14:55:26 CDT 2002

>>> and re-distribute it without Smith's permission.  But what if Rich Pyle
>>> independently combed through the original liteurature, and built his own
>>> database of the same information from scratch.  Is Rich Pyle then free to
>>> publish the contents of *his* version of essentially the same database
>>> online, and further declare it to be in the public domain?
>> Probably not if it represents a substantial portion of the
>> original database.
> I'm not sure I follow -- do you mean to suggest that if Joe Smith and Rich
> Pyle both independently do the exact same work in keying-in data on taxon
> names, reference citations, and catlog numbers from the published
> literature, that whomever creates an ASCII version of this information first
> is the one who can claim copyright??? This doesn't seem right to me.
>> That compilation, if complete, would now represent the only source for a
>> complete or nearly complete listing of these taxa.
> But what if two people independently created the electronic data from
> scratch, as was my example?  Can either claim copyright of the
> *information*, or only to their own electronic representation thereof?  What
> if one does it in ASCII, and the other in Unicode?

It seems to me from the way the copyright on scanned images was presented
here (in TAXACOM) that person B could use person A's compilation as a
template and create their own version, a perfect (but unique) representation
down to the very last period. The only provision (to keep it legit and fair)
should be that person B make her own scans from out-of-copyright documents
and not copy person A's files or make scans from print-outs of person A's
files. Allowing person A a blanket copyright over all digital material would
in effect be the same as granting person A a brand spanking new copyright
over the content (which she did not create) on a media type and not just the
particular version they happened to compile.

(I can understand a *limited* copyright over a compilation since otherwise
one person/company could do the hard & perhaps expensive work of compiling
the collection and another could simply come along, copy it and derive the
benefits from it)

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