[Python-Dev] Copyright notices in modules

Michael Foord fuzzyman at voidspace.org.uk
Tue Jan 20 17:54:50 CET 2009

Stephen J. Turnbull wrote:
> 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.
No but expression is more strongly related to creative.

> 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.

As you say - mere ordering does not render something copyrightable. 
Phone books and maps deliberately insert fictitious data in order to be 
eligible for copyright under these terms.

On the other hand I'm inclined to believe that there is enough original 
expression in the ABCs to be copyrightable. It's a basically irrelevant 
point though. :-)

>  > > 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.


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