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

On Mon, Aug 25, 2003 at 12:48:42PM -0500, Steve Langasek wrote:
[database protection]
> Well, regardless of whether it's *called* copyright, it is a copy-right
> -- by virtue of the fact that it's an exclusive right granted to the
> creator to control the creation of copies of the work.

That's not a very accurate definition of copyright, is it? "If it
involves controlling copies, surely there's copyright involved as well?"

There are quite a few differences between copyright on the one hand, and
database protecting laws on the other:

* Copyright requires the protected subject to be "original". You can't
  take a book, or even a number of books, and put that under copyright;
  there is no such restriction for a database.
* For database protection, it is required that the acquisition, control
  or presentation of the database shows a qualitatively or
  quantitatively substantial investment. i.e., you can't just
  alphabetically list your books on a piece of paper, state that it is a
  "database", and assume protection; you'd have to have a whole library
  before that could be true. The same is not true for copyright; as long
  as you're the first one to do so, it can be copyrighted.
* Database law makes a difference between reuse of and requesting
  information from a database. In this context, reuse means that you are
  making the contents of the database available to the public, whereas
  the other action would be something like making a photocopy, printing
  a part of the electronical database, etc. These aren't very accurate
  descriptions (my original text is in Dutch, and I'm having troubles
  with parts of the translation), but it gives you an idea.
* If you create a database, you have the right to
  - forbid reuse and/or requesting information from the database.
    Obviously, some people want to make some money out of creating a
    database :-)
  - Control the first sale inside the EU. However, you cannot forbid
    further sales; once the database has been sold inside the EU (with
    the permission of the creator of the database, obviously), the
    creator loses his right to control further selling of the database.
    Correct me if I'm wrong, but I think this is not the case for
    copyrighted works.
* As a user of a database, you can *without permission of the creator of
  that database* request a substantial part of the database, as long as
  it's either for private or educational use, or 'to guarantee the
  public security', whatever that might include (you know, secret agents
  and stuff).
* Database law does not include stuff such as 'moral rights', or
  'parental rights'. You only have the right to control the exploitation
  of the database (until you sell it).
* Contrary to copyright law, you can give up all your rights to a
  database; this is probably related to the fact that those rights that
  cannot be given up are exactly the rights that don't exist in database
  law. Also, the rights to a database can be owned by a company (or how
  do you say that in English, a legal structure that is a person, as far
  as the law is concerned), which isn't the case for copyrighted works
  (probably because creating a database requires a substantial amount of
  work, which cannot reasonably be done by a single (natural)
* Finally, database law does not exclude other forms of protection; a
  database could theoretically be protected both by database law and by
  copyright law (if the requirements for both systems are fulfilled), or
  perhaps something else. I have the feeling, though, that in a
  real-life situation, not the entire database would be protected by
  copyright law; only parts of it.

Copyright isn't just about "controlling who gets to copy what". It's
also about protecting the original author. The same isn't the case with
database law; it serves a completely different purpose, so the
protection is of a completely different type.


#include <ianal.h>

I used the papers of my course of "IT law" I had to take during the last
year I went to school. It's pretty accurate, but what's in this mail is
an interpretation of an interpretation (I haven't seen the actual
lawtexts, only my teacher's interpretation of them). I could've made
some mistakes.

Wouter Verhelst
Debian GNU/Linux -- http://www.debian.org
Nederlandstalige Linux-documentatie -- http://nl.linux.org
"Stop breathing down my neck." "My breathing is merely a simulation."
"So is my neck, stop it anyway!"
  -- Voyager's EMH versus the Prometheus' EMH, stardate 51462.

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