Thursday, December 16, 2010

No copyright on databases and maps?

Telstra’s Sensis has just lost an appeal with regard to Federal Court judgement that said its White and Yellow pages are not protected by copyright law. The key to the decision was that those compilations lack “creative spark” and hence cannot be protected under copyright law that requires “independent intellectual effort” to create the works. This ruling has important implications for all kinds of factual data collections, including listings of real estate, names and addresses or… databases with map data. Sensis will be seeking leave to appeal to the High Court to revert the decision.

It begs an interesting question: does it mean that all that high resolution imagery of your neighbourhood and representation of local roads, or cadastre boundaries, or geocoded addresses, are “free for all”? Google and others who publish such information would have no legal grounds for preventing people from copying it all in droves…

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