[APG Public List] Copyright and content issue

Pat Asher pjroots at att.net
Thu Oct 15 16:16:40 MDT 2009

At 03:21 PM 10/15/2009, you wrote:
>While I cannot disagree with your statement of the current copyright law, I
>would like to propose food for thought as any law can be challenged if it is
>felt to be unjust. Consider this hypothetical case: a 17th century church
>register is discovered and it is entirely written in Latin. So therefore the
>ORIGINAL data is in Latin. If someone was to translate the document into
>English could that new work not be considered to be ORIGINAL as no other
>English version exists?

As long as we are talking only about FACTS, the answer is no.
Caesarion eram prognatus of Julius Caesar quod Cleopatra
is a fact, i.e. Caesarion was born of Julius Caesar and Cleopatra

Regardless of the language in which the original record appears, the 
discoverer of the fact has not created the fact, they have simply 
reported that which they discovered.

>If you buy that, then let's say we have a 17th century American Church
>register that is written in English. The problem is the entries are faded in
>different places and very difficult to read and in addition it is written in
>the handwriting of the time which perhaps less than 1% of the population
>today could decipher without special training. So if someone transcribed
>that into something readable could that work not also be considered

No.  In the U.S., copyright requires 
originality/creation.  Misreading or even intentionally 
mistranscribing FURGASON as FERGUSON
or Tenasee as Tennessee, or Cantucky as Kentucky is not an act of 
creation.  It is simply a mistake, or an intentional attempt (for 
whatever reason) to misrepresent the original record.

>When the Copyright Act was created in 1909 and revised in 1976, there did
>not exist the technology that is available today to virtually scan an entire
>book and using character recognition software essentially lift data that
>might have taken someone months to compile. I would not be surprised to see
>the law challenged in the future. Why would anyone want to go to the expense
>to create a compilation with the objective of commercial use only to have it
>lifted and put on-line for all to use free of charge.

It already has been challenged many times and has withstood all 
challenges since the definitive Feist v. Rural decision in 
1991.  That decision was very explicit that facts are not created but 
can only be discovered, and under the U.S. Constitution, are not 
eligible for copyright protection.  Compilers wish that decision had 
never been made, but it was, so they must use compilation copyright, 
or license to protect their "sweat of the brow" efforts.

Pat Asher  

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