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Re: simple translation copyright issues

On Wed, Jul 09, 2003 at 12:56:02AM -0500, Elizabeth Barham wrote:

>    I worked through a book on medical terminology and one of the
> studies is roots of medical words, their suffixes and their prefixes.
> Here are examples:

> prefixes [part,definition{multiples separated with ;}]:

> endo,within
> epi,above, upon
> ex,out
> exo,out
> hyper,excessive;above

> roots [part, linking letter/word, definition]:

> aden,o,gland
> arthr,o,joint
> bi,o,life
> carcin,o,cancerous, cancer
> cardi,o,heart

> suffixes [part, definition]:

> eal,pertaining to
> iac,pertaining to
> ior,pertaining to
> ism,process
> ose,pertaining to, full of

> If you're interested, you may view the whole thing at:
> http://cvs.sourceforge.net/cgi-bin/viewcvs.cgi/medicalwords/pre/definitions/en/csv/

>    Anyway, I found these in a book and simply typed them in and I
> consider these translations/definitions so vague that I don't see how
> they are copyright-able yet I want to check it over with you all.  So,
> I'd like to take this opportunity to ask you all, are vague
> translations/definitions copyright-able?

It's my understanding that dictionaries, because they contain elements
of originality in the selection and wording of definitions, constitute
copyrightable works.  At least in the US, to be copyrightable a work
must be of a certain minimum length; I expect (though IANAL) that the
examples listed above aren't enough to gain copyright protection, though
a more extensive dictionary very well might be.

> You will note that the original word part is Latin.

Mostly Greek, actually.

Steve Langasek
postmodern programmer

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