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  1. #1
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    Dec 2005
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    Default Using Phone Book Listings to Create Your Own Database

    I would like to know if such thing is legal. Here is an example:

    I would like to copy list of businesses from a local phone book (not yellowpages but an ethnic group local phone book) and include them in my website's online database. Would that be legal? I think these information are publicly available so that should not be a problem, but am I right?

    Thank you for any help.

  2. #2
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    Default Copyright of Facts

    As the law presently stands, you can't copyright facts. You can copyright the presentation of the facts, but not the facts themselves. (So the first person who publishes a report that GW Bush was sworn in as President in 2000 can't demand royalties from everybody who repeats that fact.)

    The essential content of a yellow pages listing (name, address, phone) is factual information. The original publisher has a copyright on the presentation, and on any original information which accompanies the listing (e.g., a description of the person's services), but not of the essential factual information underlying the listing.

    You may not be surprised to know that some major compilers of data are working to have Congress change that, such that their factual compilations would be protected by copyright. Such copyright protection would have a profound and negative effect on society, so Congress will have to weigh that against how well their lobbyists are paying.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Dec 2005
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    Default

    Thank you so much for the information. If I understand it correctly, in my case, if I want to include and copy the basic information from YellowPages or other phone book, such as name of the company, address and their phone number, I can do that legally, correct?

  4. #4
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    Default Copyright Law

    You can't drag a legal opinion out of me with a team of horses. That's what you pay lawyers for.

    But if I were making such a website, I personally wouldn't be worried about using such basic, factual data.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Dec 2005
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    Default



    Thank you!

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Dec 2005
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    Default

    Well, after reading the facts you presented we started debating on this issue.

    The following are the facts about our issue:

    A book exists including most of the ethnic group businesses in the area. The guy who owns the book has been working on it for years to include as many businesses as possible for a fee. He does not have ALL of the businesses listed there as not everybody wants to pay.

    Now, here comes our project. We want to have a database of all of these businesses online and include them there for free by copying the name of the company, address and phone number from that book. Then, we will give them an opportunity to buy more advertising to distinguish them from their competition on our website.

    The question arises:

    From one perspective, it will feel like cheating by copying the info from that book after the guy spent years of putting it together, but from other perspective, if the information are publicly available and are factual, then it seem that they would NOT have a case against us would they? We could as well used YellowPages.com or YellowPages book to find all that companies and include them in our database right?

  7. #7
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    Default Difficulty of Collecting Data

    You are hitting on the rationale that data compilers use for trying to get special protections for their compilations - they expend work putting the facts together, and then other people can create their own works from the non-copyrightable facts without paying royalties. But at present, that's what the law allows.

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