[Python-Dev] Copyright notices in modules

Stephen J. Turnbull stephen at xemacs.org
Tue Jan 20 16:54:57 CET 2009

M.-A. Lemburg writes:
 > On 2009-01-20 11:02, Michael Foord wrote:

 > > Mere collections of facts are not copyrightable as they are not
 > > creative (the basis of copyright)

That's incorrect in the U.S.; what is copyrightable is an *original
work of expression fixed in some medium*.  "Original" is closely
related to "creative", but it's not the same.  The emphasis is on
novelty, not on the intellectual power involved.  So, for example, you
can copyright a set of paint splashes on paper, as long as they're
*new* paint splashes.

The real issue here, however, is "expression".  What's important is
whether there are different ways to say it.  So you can indeed
copyright the phone book or a dictionary, which *does* protect such
things as unusual use of typefaces or color to aid understanding.
What you can't do is prevent someone from publishing another phone
book or dictionary based on the same facts, and since "put it in
alphabetical order" hasn't been an original form of expression since
Aristotle or so, they can alphabetize their phone book or dictionary,
and it is going to look a lot like yours.

On the other hand, ABCs are not a "mere collection of facts". They are
subject to various forms of organization (top down, bottom up,
alphabetical order, etc), and that organization will in general be
copyrightable.  Also, unless your ABCs are all independent of each
other, you will be making choices about when to derive and when to
define from scratch.  That aspect of organization is expressive, and
once written down ("fixed in a medium") it is copyrightable.

 > > I recommend his book by the way - I'm about half way through so far and
 > > it is highly readable

Larry Rosen's book is also good.

More information about the Python-Dev mailing list