A question about copyright

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A question about copyright

Mikael-20
It has been proposed on Swedish Wiktionary to use a significant amount of
material from a dictionary [1] which allegedly is out of copyright due to
only having been protected under the law of "katalogskydd" ('catalogue
protection') which is in effect for 15 years after publication. The last
edition was published in 1989, the author died in 1986, and the last
reprinting was done in 1999 -- though mere reprints are not supposed to
grant extensions of the time of protection.

Assuming that the assessment about the material falling under the
"katalogskydd" is correct, is that sufficient for WMF to be comfortable
hosting the material, or does US copyright law interfere in any way?


\Mike


(cc-ing to Wiktionary-l to see if anyone there has experience with this
particular situation.)


[1] http://runeberg.org/svaraord/
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Re: A question about copyright

Amgine-3
On 21/07/13 05:30, Mikael wrote:

> It has been proposed on Swedish Wiktionary to use a significant amount of
> material from a dictionary [1] which allegedly is out of copyright due to
> only having been protected under the law of "katalogskydd" ('catalogue
> protection') which is in effect for 15 years after publication. The last
> edition was published in 1989, the author died in 1986, and the last
> reprinting was done in 1999 -- though mere reprints are not supposed to
> grant extensions of the time of protection.
>
> Assuming that the assessment about the material falling under the
> "katalogskydd" is correct, is that sufficient for WMF to be comfortable
> hosting the material, or does US copyright law interfere in any way?
>
>
> \Mike
>
>
> (cc-ing to Wiktionary-l to see if anyone there has experience with this
> particular situation.)
>
>
> [1] http://runeberg.org/svaraord/

I am not a lawyer, and nothing I write here would be legal advice, but...

If I recall correctly, under US copyright case law a word's definition
cannot be copyrighted. There are only a limited set of ways to express
the definition of a term, and it is recognized this puts an undue burden
on new works.

However, a *collection* of terms may be copyrighted under the database
portion of the copyright rules.

But if such a collection makes up a very small portion of your own
collection (I believe there is a guideline of 10-15%) then its inclusion
in your database does not constitute an infringement.

What this means is: under US law (which is the standard applied to WMF
projects) sv.WT could likely include the contents.

What this *does not address* is: the person(s) adding the material to
the project, who may be subject to other legal jurisdictions.

Amgine

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Re: A question about copyright

Lars Aronsson
On 07/21/2013 07:55 PM, Amgine wrote:
> If I recall correctly, under US copyright case law a word's definition
> cannot be copyrighted. There are only a limited set of ways to express
> the definition of a term, and it is recognized this puts an undue burden
> on new works.
>
> However, a *collection* of terms may be copyrighted under the database
> portion of the copyright rules.

(I have a dual role here, both as user:LA2 in Wiktionary and
as the founder of Project Runeberg, where that dictionary
was digitized.)

According to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Database_right
"database rights" exist in the EU, but not in the U.S.
Such a bill was introduced, but rejected,
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Database_protection_bill

When EU introduced the catalog protection in the mid 1990s,
they borrowed the concept from the Scandinavian countries,
which in the late 1950s jointly renewed their copyright
laws (Denmark 1958?, Sweden 1960, Norway 1961).
It was designed to give a short protection, 10 years after
the first publication, to a catalog, table or listing, hence
the name "catalog protection" (Danish: katalogbeskyttelse,
Swedish: katalogskydd). Later, this has been extended to
15 years, but it's still based on the year of publication, and
not the death year of the author.

The catalog is a collection of facts or short entries which
cannot be copyrighted each on their own. However, it is
not clear how long such an entry can be before it is
eligible for copyright.

In each case, we have (at least) two different issues to
discuss: 1) Are the individual entries copyrightable?
2) Is the entire collection protected by database rights?

The 2nd issue is the easiest: Database rights, where they
are applicable, only last for 15 years. So anything older
than 15 years is free from database rights.

The harder issue is whether individual entries are
copyrightable. Nobody gives a clear definition.

When digitizing books in Project Runeberg, I have made
the assumption that entries in spelling dictionaries, translation
dictionaries, and who-is-who books are not copyrightable.
Based on this assumption, I have digitized a large number
of such works from Sweden, Norway, Finland, and Denmark
which are older than 15 years but younger than 70 years.
This started three and a half year ago.

So far, nobody has protested. Since the publishers of these
works are still around, and I'm not trying to hide, they are
free to express their dissatisfaction, but they have not.

(My assumption does not extend to etymological dictionaries
where each entry is a little story in its own right. For such
dictionaries, I respect the common life+70 copyright.)

In practice, the who-is-who entries are never copied from
Project Runeberg to Wikipedia, but completely rewritten
in standard Wikipedia prose, using the digitized book as
a source reference, as in this case,
http://sv.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gunnar_Blix

The source reference is a 1977 who-is-who,
http://runeberg.org/vemardet/1977/0139.html

To reuse a scanned dictionary in Wiktionary, similar
transformations are needed.


--
   Lars Aronsson ([hidden email])
   Project Runeberg - free Nordic literature - http://runeberg.org/



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Re: A question about copyright

Ray Saintonge
On 07/21/13 2:20 PM, Lars Aronsson wrote:

> On 07/21/2013 07:55 PM, Amgine wrote:
>> If I recall correctly, under US copyright case law a word's definition
>> cannot be copyrighted. There are only a limited set of ways to express
>> the definition of a term, and it is recognized this puts an undue burden
>> on new works.
>>
>> However, a *collection* of terms may be copyrighted under the database
>> portion of the copyright rules.
>
> (I have a dual role here, both as user:LA2 in Wiktionary and
> as the founder of Project Runeberg, where that dictionary
> was digitized.)
>
> According to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Database_right
> "database rights" exist in the EU, but not in the U.S.
> Such a bill was introduced, but rejected,
> http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Database_protection_bill
>
> When EU introduced the catalog protection in the mid 1990s,
> they borrowed the concept from the Scandinavian countries,
> which in the late 1950s jointly renewed their copyright
> laws (Denmark 1958?, Sweden 1960, Norway 1961).
> It was designed to give a short protection, 10 years after
> the first publication, to a catalog, table or listing, hence
> the name "catalog protection" (Danish: katalogbeskyttelse,
> Swedish: katalogskydd). Later, this has been extended to
> 15 years, but it's still based on the year of publication, and
> not the death year of the author.
>
> The catalog is a collection of facts or short entries which
> cannot be copyrighted each on their own. However, it is
> not clear how long such an entry can be before it is
> eligible for copyright.
>
> In each case, we have (at least) two different issues to
> discuss: 1) Are the individual entries copyrightable?
> 2) Is the entire collection protected by database rights?
>
> The 2nd issue is the easiest: Database rights, where they
> are applicable, only last for 15 years. So anything older
> than 15 years is free from database rights.
>
> The harder issue is whether individual entries are
> copyrightable. Nobody gives a clear definition.
>
> When digitizing books in Project Runeberg, I have made
> the assumption that entries in spelling dictionaries, translation
> dictionaries, and who-is-who books are not copyrightable.
> Based on this assumption, I have digitized a large number
> of such works from Sweden, Norway, Finland, and Denmark
> which are older than 15 years but younger than 70 years.
> This started three and a half year ago.
>
> So far, nobody has protested. Since the publishers of these
> works are still around, and I'm not trying to hide, they are
> free to express their dissatisfaction, but they have not.
>
> (My assumption does not extend to etymological dictionaries
> where each entry is a little story in its own right. For such
> dictionaries, I respect the common life+70 copyright.)
>
> In practice, the who-is-who entries are never copied from
> Project Runeberg to Wikipedia, but completely rewritten
> in standard Wikipedia prose, using the digitized book as
> a source reference, as in this case,
> http://sv.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gunnar_Blix
>
> The source reference is a 1977 who-is-who,
> http://runeberg.org/vemardet/1977/0139.html
>
> To reuse a scanned dictionary in Wiktionary, similar
> transformations are needed.
>
>

Database rights is a feature unique to the EU, and is distinct from
collective copyrights. As I understand it it only applies to electronic
databases, and without regard to any copyrights on the material
included. Thus if a database right applies to a scanned dictionary, a
separate and independent scan of the same material would not infringe
that database right.

Collective copyrights are the rights that apply to a work as a whole,
and in the absence of a clearly defined individual being responsible for
the whole, are the property of the publisher. Here in Canada, that right
would expire 50 years after publication. The rights of individual
authors (if identified) in a collective work are distinct from this, and
are mostly not subject to the rules for joint works. New material in
these collections will mostly have copyrights that survive longer than
the collective rights. Publishers can continue to publish the material,
but only in the same (or similar?) context. My extended interpretation  
is that when the publisher's collective rights expire those rights
become the property of the public; the public may then reproduce the
collective works, but not the still protected items as separate works.

To the best of my knowledge there is no specific legal provision
exempting individual dictionary definitions from copyright. What we do
have is the principle that information is not copyrightable; only the
way that information is expressed is copyrightable. If there is only one
way to express an idea it is not copyrightable, because that would
prevent that Idea from being expressed. Add to that the fact that many
dictionary entries are themselves taken from earlier dictionaries that
are already in the public domain, and one must draw the conclusion that
very few dictionary definitions are copyrightable. Those few may be
within the range of fair dealing.

I have not been very active lately in the English Wiktionary.  When I
was the community had taken the view that definitions from other
dictionaries could not be used in Wiktionary; I don't know if that is
still the policy.  From an epistemological perspective this can be a big
problem. It implies that each definition must be original! That
certainly has an impact on reliability.

Ray


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