3.526 copyright, cont. (68)

Willard McCarty (MCCARTY@vm.epas.utoronto.ca)
Sun, 1 Oct 89 20:46:10 EDT

Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 3, No. 526. Sunday, 1 Oct 1989.

Date: Sat, 30 Sep 89 21:12:48 EDT
From: amsler@flash.bellcore.com (Robert A Amsler)
Subject: Re: Copyright thoughts

There are two cases of copyright to consider. First, is the work you
are dealing with under copyright protection or not? If it is
protected, then copying more than an insubstantial amount by whatever
means is a violation of copyright. It may not be challenged if such
copying is solely for academic research--but if you try to sell the
materials or you derive economic benefit from the materials in some
way---they'll come after you. The more money, the more they will try
to figure out a way to get some of it.

If the work is NOT protected, and the copying is by means of using a
computer to lift the words someone else typed in without typing them
in directly yourself, then the issue becomes tricky. Such situations
are relatively new to the law and without hardly any case law. Let's
take a for instance. Once upon a time, OCLC was the Ohio College
Library Consortium. It was a Cooperative venture between hundreds of
libraries and hundreds of library acquisition staff keyboarded
entries into the merged OCLC system. Then, some of the member
libraries decided they wanted to put up their own electronic catalogs
and asked for an electronic copy of the entries corresponding to
their library's holdings. OCLC said no, you can't take the records
out of our system and keep them yourself. These records are owned
by us. They are the basis for our revenue. You will have to retype
your records into the computer yourselves.....

The case here involves information which in and of itself isn't
subject to copyright individually. The bibliographic details of a
book title, author, publisher, etc. are not themselves protected.
What was being protected was the entire database. Significant subsets
of the database were likewise protected.

Anyway... what I'm trying to say here is that use of electronically
captured information is a tricky thing for which they law hasn't yet
figured out all of the ramifications.

Turning to the second case:

Data entry directly from a work out of copyright is 100% free and
clear. Nobody can prevent you from typing in the words,
photographing the pages, etc. of anything whose copyright has
expired. However, if what you are copying from is some copyrighted
interpretation, updating, revision, new edition, etc. of the
original work--it may be subject to its own copyright protection
(i.e. to assure the profits of the publisher and the new
editors/compilers/revisers/interpreters, etc.). The clear test is to
ask yourself whether anyone currently claiming copyright in the work
you are taking information from contributed their own intellectual
effort to the piece of the product you are taking for your own use.
Certainly just interleaving three or more copyrighted objects doesn't
undo the original copyright. (Try selling a tri-lineal text, with
every 3rd line from each of three current best selling novels and see
what happens!!!)

Shakespeare obviously is not in copyright. Editions and
interpretations of Shakespeare could clearly be in copyright under
some circumstances.