back to article Court advisor says poem list infringed database right

Europe's highest court could strengthen the rights of database creators to protect their work. One of the European Court of Justice's Advocates General has issued an opinion backing a German University's right to stop others using information it compiled. A European Union Directive protects the content of databases even when …


This topic is closed for new posts.
  1. A J Stiles


    Just because something was hard work, doesn't mean you're automatically entitled to make money from it.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    What counts?

    I assume that there wasn't some kind of mission impossible stunt to get access to the data. In fact, given the companies are entirely unrelated, it seems likely that the database was accessible over the internet.

    So, copying data from one database to another is illegal, however it is done. And this is basically a Top 1000 list. Should Google be worrying right now?

    Would Amazon be infringing if I used their database as a purchasing guide, or made myself a "my top 1000 poems" list based on their work?

    Saying that, the court cases appear to be going the way you'd hope - the knock-off anthology on CD gets ruled against, but so are the BHB. The airline screenscraping cases will be an interesting test!

  3. Pete

    @ A J Stiles

    Sure. But if something was hard work and someone *else* goes and tries to make a profit from it, you're entitled to stop them. That's the basis of copyright - it intends to protect the people who did the work so we don't all turn into a culture of freeloaders. Granted, copyright is an ass in some places, but here Directmedia is in the wrong.

  4. Mark

    Hard work

    I had a case of constipation a while ago. Shifting the dockyarder was hard work. Since the water company makes money off sewage treatment, they are making a derivative of my "product" which, having been hard work, is copyright to ME.

    Southern water owe be big time!

    And to Pete, copyright isn't about protecting your hard work. It's about protecting ART. And a compilation isn't expressive. It isn't art. It isn't science. It isn't copyright.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Compete or die

    Lisbon agenda was a crock of sh*t. You don't make Europe more competitive by trying to wrap it up in a bunch of new IP rights. That's protectionism and it's self defeating.

    The list is not worth 35k, because they gave it away free on the net. It was worth nothing. You can't give it away for free, then pretend it has value.

    The database directive doesn't *create* value simply because you wish it does. It doesn't turn the money you spent into making a list into value that can be sold and a business. Making IP rights for the sake of IP rights does not make value, it makes lawsuits and obstacles and expense and burden.

    The company selling the text of the poems should be allowed to do that, because it's a commercial product and has value. The list that was given away for free is not worth anything, because it was given away for free by its creators.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    While I can sort-of see the value of this law, in this particular case, it could be argued that the database in question is simply an expression of someone's (in this case, Dr Ulrich Knoop's) opinion of what constitutes a worthy prose.

    Can you really copyright an opinion? I'm guessing not. Or "protect" an opinion by other means? And SHOULD an opinion be protected for being disseminated?

    I can see that Dr Knoop would be hacked of at someone using the compiled data to make a fast buck, and probably with some justification. But the data IS just an opinion.

  7. Anonymous Coward


    Its not like they bloody copied it...

    It was published, and then used, for another purpose.

    Next it will be OED persuing me for checking spellings.

    or imdb because I checked a release date before I went to the cinema

    (no more spel cheks Ever!)

  8. RainForestGuppy
    Thumb Down

    Financial Gain

    I think the main issue is financial gain.

    I'm assuming that the CD that Directmedia published was a service to generate Income, so that all the hardwork/effort/costs was written off to provide a free service and then a 3rd party takes this and attempts to make money from it. Which is Cynical and IMHO wrong.

    However some judgement is needed, since it appears that all media researches take their content from Wikipedia. So should the BBC/ITV/C4 etc be sued?

  9. Simon Williams

    What's in a list?

    If you were to try and compile a list of the top 1,000 poems in German between 1720 and 1900, *not* using the University of Friebug's list (Frieburg, shurely?), but consulting academics with expertise in German poetry, I'd take a bet that a good number of the poems would be on the university list. How many of the poems on a CD or in an anthology would have to be on the list to warrant infringement? 100? 500? 800?

    I can see there's considerable work involved in compiling a database like this, but being a university, the money to pay for the work presumably comes from the public purse in the first place. And if the University didn't want people using the list, why put it on the Internet?

    I write this as a full-time writer and poet (though not a German one, living between those dates). It seems to me a publisher producing such a CD would have trouble *avoiding* copyright infringement, if this case is upheld.

  10. Secretgeek

    1000 top poems in German

    Come on people, how much money were they really going to make from this? If they somehow managed to sell a thousand in 5 years I'd be surprised.

    Mine's the one that says 'uncultured oaf' on the back.

  11. Chris Cox
    Gates Horns

    @ Mark

    Sorry mate, the BOFH did that one first.

  12. Colin Millar

    @ Guppy

    Since when is seeking financial gain wrong?

    How far do we take this ridiculous notion that using an idea that is out there somewhere to make some money is inherently wrong - you can only make money from something if you thought of it first? Well there goes the industrial revolution - never mind every late c20 tech that you can think of.

    I think the recent lawyer swarming around IP just shows how little genuine creativity is actually going on these days.

  13. Seanie Ryan


    as put in other comments :

    The Uni made it available for Free. If they thought it was worth money, then charge for the info from day 1. If you are dumb enough the give it away for free after spending 35k on making it then tough.

    And where did they get their info day 1 to compile the list... prob by looking up other sources??

    And why did it cost 35k? i am sure i could compile a quality list in a month or 2 max.

    Maybe the Uni should be taken to task for mis-use of funds!!!!

  14. Anonymous Coward

    compilation is a "work of art"

    The real question is exactly how much of it can you "re-compile" and NOT be guilty of taking their work. Much as Simon stated....if you take the original 1100 - hack off half and name your own half and make up a whole new that wrong and who's going to prove it and how? How many "works of art" poems were even written in that period and who decides what is worth reading again anyway? The actual compilation of an anthology is work and apparently cost some amount of money to do originally, but in reality no anthology work is created in a vacuum.

  15. Dave
    Paris Hilton


    AC: if you give me a £10 birthday present, does that mean that it is worthless because you gave it to me for free?

    What if you give a single £35,000 gift to an entire nation, (maybe a nice, artistic painting,) is it still worthless?

    Feckin' Idiot !

  16. ShaggyDoggy

    @ mark

    It doesn't have to be art to be copyrighted.

    Have you heard of this stuff called software ?

  17. Edward

    I have no doubt...

    ...that the University will lose this, to award them damages would set a VERY dangerous precedent.

    Out of interest: When the University released the list, did they do so under a particular license?

  18. Anonymous Coward
    IT Angle

    My 1000 best != anyone else's... I so do I copyright my favourite list?

    How does this compare with those "best of" albums we see littering adland, telesales and the recycle bin at charity shops ... the ones dedicated to Christmas, Valentines', Elvis Presley Memorial Tuesday, 15 songs to drive off a cliff to, The very best of what's left of the unreleased crap they made before they were famous or even musically trained etc ... If they have the same bunch of numpties choosing the 1000 best poems as they do choosing the 20 best "hide-the-sausage" songs then I for one can safely assume that 950 of them are complete crap.

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    If I give you a birthday present, regardless of the cost to me, and you use it as the basis of a product you then sell, I have no rights to that product or the money you make from it. Therefore, (to me) it has no value after I've given it away.

  20. Robin Bradshaw

    Next we shall see:

    Professor Dr Ulrich Knoop sued for copyright infringement in his doctoral thesis, the prosecution claims he infringed on the database rights of others by using information they compiled in the production of his thesis.

    Evidence of this can quite clearly be found in the References section of his thesis.

  21. Pyros

    @Chris Cox

    Hey, he did submit a new term--never heard of "shifting the dockyarder" before until now!

    Mine's the one made of two-ply.

  22. Kevin

    @AC 15:50

    Best-of albums are usually produced by people who own or have rights to the copyright in the material they're publishing. Or they pay the appropriate licensing fees to do so.

    In Australia, we already have these laws. Any compilation of data that takes some amount of effort is copyrightable. All the examples in the story are included: Music Charts (put up the current top 10 chart and ARIA's lawyers will drop a letter in your mailbox in no time, put a Footy fixture on the web and the AFL's lawyers start typing. And IceTV has spent a lot of time and money defending themselves against the Nine Network for copyright infringement of TV Guides (Ice won, then lost on appeal and now awaiting next appeal - in the meanwhile their customers don't get data for Ch 9).

  23. Bounty

    If this gives you any idea...

    I will sue you if you tell anyone about this thought I'm writing now. In fact... I'm looking at you, El Reg....... (I demand you don't let anyone see this!)

  24. xjy
    Paris Hilton

    bollocks cubed

    Hell, I'm just gonna copyright my brain and everything going on in there. Since some other fucker's already copyrighted my genome...

    (Paris cos she's copyrighted the important part of herself and what she does with it, but gives it away for free when she chooses.)

  25. A J Stiles

    @ Pete

    "[I]f something was hard work and someone *else* goes and tries to make a profit from it, you're entitled to stop them."

    If you live and work in a capitalist country, then your employer is almost certainly making a profit from your hard work -- and not only are you not entitled to stop them, but you're supposed to be grateful for the opportunity to help them.

    "That's the basis of copyright - it intends to protect the people who did the work so we don't all turn into a culture of freeloaders."

    Copyright was originally intended to protect authors from greedy publishers, and the monopoly afforded was for a quite limited period of time. In any case the act being rewarded was the noble act of *sharing* one's creative work, as opposed to the mere act of *creating*. It's kind of ironic that copyright is now used to protect greedy publishers from the public.

  26. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    @ Kevin

    Thank you squire... I was not aware. That might explain why, for some inexplicable reason, there always seems to be a couple of complete ''unknowns' hidden within the "very ultimate own-brand-only extraveganza pop collection"

  27. Anonymous Coward

    This is getting extremely silly now.

    If I make lists of everything out of copyright and publish them on my web site, does that give me right to claim from everyone who now sells any product that includes anything on those lists.

    OK, I am not German but am English so can't comment directly, but if I made a list of the 1000 best English poems over a couple of ancient centuries, it would probably include all the poems I could find, due to the scarcity. If anyone else did the same there would be a great deal of similarity in the lists. In fact if someone had done a 2000 list then you can guarantee my 1000 would be included in the 2000 even though mine was done first.

    there is such as thing as obviousness and that covers this.

    At the end of the day a list is only list, in fact only yesterday I spotted several copyright infringing b'stards using my shopping list in the supermarket. Well it wasn't exactly mine but many of the items on their lists were on mine and the coincidence factor of so many people all coming up with similar lists must be pretty low, particularly considering my list comprised of slang like: bread instead of sliced bread; milk instead of semi-skinned cows milk; pots instead of potatoes; sugar instead of granulated white sugar; to name a few!

This topic is closed for new posts.