Case Ends with Ruling that Phone Listings Aren’t Copyrightable

Reader Tim Hamilton sent me this link to a news.com.au story. He also included a link to the original ruling. The judge ruled against a division of Australian telco, Telstra, in favor of the publishers of Local Directories over the question of whether Telstra’s directories unit could claim copyright over its database of phone listings.

Justice Michelle Gordon ruled that there was no act of authorship involved with the database in question. The article notes this could have farther reaching implications. However, there is already strong precedent for exempting databases of facts from copyright. The ruling even makes reference, specifically in international contexts, to this very trend so I don’t know that the ruling will have as much impact as the article suggests.

Mike Masnick at Techdirt has some analysis that backs up this view. He points out that there is a growing trend with supporting research towards opening up such databases, seeing them as necessary material to feed follow on innovations.

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