Re: [R] [OT] Is data copyrightable?

From: Thomas Lumley <tlumley_at_u.washington.edu>
Date: Mon, 14 May 2007 08:41:54 -0700 (PDT)

This is an area where US law differs importantly from other countries. US law protects compilations of facts only to the extent that the selection of the facts is creative expression (and does not protect the facts themselves). Many other jurisdictions (eg European Union) also offer protection based on the effort need to compile the facts regardless of any creativity. A 1997 US Supreme Court decision (in a case about telephone directories) ruled that the 'sweat of the brow' rationale for copyright was inconsistent with the intellectual property clause of the US Constitution. So, in the US, it depends on the data and their source.

Publishers that I have talked to tend to claim that data are definitely copyrightable, but since they tend to own the copyrights one might do well to recall the immortal words of Mandy Rice-Davies.

         -thomas

Thomas Lumley			Assoc. Professor, Biostatistics
tlumley_at_u.washington.edu	University of Washington, Seattle

On Sat, 12 May 2007, hadley wickham wrote:

> Dear all,
>
> This is a little bit off-topic, but I was wondering if anyone has any
> informed opinion on whether data (ie. a dataset) is copyrightable?
>
> Hadley
>
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Thomas Lumley			Assoc. Professor, Biostatistics
tlumley_at_u.washington.edu	University of Washington, Seattle

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