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Re: Freaky copyright laws [was: SUN RPC code is DFSG-free]

On Sun, Aug 24, 2003 at 10:29:40PM +0100, Andrew Suffield wrote:
> On Sun, Aug 24, 2003 at 04:12:08PM -0500, Branden Robinson wrote:
> > I freely admit that this analysis is grounded on U.S.-centric notions of
> > reverse engineering and "originality" as a relevant concept to
> > copyright.  In other jurisdictions, copyrights more closely resemble
> > patents, and independent innovation is no defense to a claim of
> > copyright infringement.
> Good grief, there are jurisdictions where copyright law follows the
> first-finder-is-keeper system used by patents? I'm not sure that free
> software can work at all with laws like that.
> Do you have a list? I want to avoid visiting such countries.

I thought basically every place outside the U.S. was like that.  Several
times when the U.S. Supreme Court decision of _Feist v. Rural Telephone
Service Co._ has come up, it's been ridiculed by some Europeans.

Over in Europe, you can copyright a database of obvious facts, even if
it isn't organized in a clever fashion.  This is regarded as
breathtakingly obvious by the Europeans on this list who are well up on
EU copyright law, and breathtakingly wrong by Americans on this list who
are well up on U.S. Copyright law.

There have been efforts in the U.S. to undo the effects of _Feist_
through legislation.  One example is the "Collections of Information
Antipiracy Act"[1].  (I don't think that bill passed.)

Somewhere in the archives of this list, there's an argument about the
copyrightability of word lists.  RMS said he felt word lists were
copyrightable, though he didn't represent this as anything more than a
personal opinion, as opposed to his understanding of copyright laws in
some jurisdiction.

In the U.S. I think you'd have a pretty hard time copyrighting a word
*list*, even one with a specialist focus, unless you made up all the
words yourself (e.g., "foosnerbin vrflexin bobshingarbl").

Add *definitions* to those words, and you'd have a dictionary, which
copyrightable in most places.

You may need to move to the U.S. to find the Utopia you seek.  I warn
you, it won't live up to your expectations.  ;-)

[1] http://patents.uspto.gov/web/offices/dcom/olia/hr354.html

G. Branden Robinson                |       Convictions are more dangerous
Debian GNU/Linux                   |       enemies of truth than lies.
branden@debian.org                 |       -- Friedrich Nietzsche
http://people.debian.org/~branden/ |

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