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Re: [ontolog-forum] Copyright in Taxonomies: Leading case in US law(ADA

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From: "sean barker" <sean.barker@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
Date: Fri, 29 Oct 2010 19:16:58 +0100
Message-id: <9E839577B21045EC9D4B2D70AD66C78C@SMB>

To throw further darkness on this discussion, it is clear that individual words are not copyrightable, but a whole novel is. Similarly, I would assume that an individual classification statement such as "Socrates is a man" or "All men are mortal" would be uncopyrightable, however that a complex system would be. Further, there is a distinction between the publisher's copyright on the form of a text, but that is separate from the author's copyright of the text itself - for example, Shakespeare is out of copyright, but that does not give me the right to photocopy a recently published edition of a Shakespeare play.
The question therefore is, at what point does a classification system become copyrightable? (in the sense of an author's copyright, rather than a publisher's copyright) Or better, at what point does a collection of classification statements become a copyrightable system? And at what point does the overlap of one system with another become an infringement of copyright? This question may become more vexed by the way that at some level, the many individual statements of classification will be statements of the obvious.
A further complication is that in an ontology, one defines the set of differentia between classes (the properties of the class) on a class by class basis, and therefore one can infer the class
hierarchy without explicitly stating it. It would be an interesting discussion as to whether an inferred classification system which is identical to an explicit classification system are comparable in copyright terms.
Sean Barker
 Bristol, UK

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