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Thin But Not Anorexic: Copyright Protection for Compilations and Other Fact Works

By David E. Shipley


Questions about the copyrightability of compilations and other low authorship fact works, and about the scope of protection, have continued to trouble courts long after the Supreme Court\u27s landmark decision in Feist Publications, Inc. v. Rural Telephone Services Co. in 1991. Justice O\u27Connor\u27s opinion, explaining why a standard white pages telephone directory did not meet the constitutional and statutory requirements for copyright protection, defined an original work of authorship as one that is independently created by its author and that evidences at least a minimal level of creativity. The latter requirement has been elusive, in part because Justice O\u27Connor defined creativity by negative example, describing how an author\u27s efforts in preparing a compilation might not satisfy the requirement. This Article, with the help of many post-Feist opinions, elaborates on Justice O\u27Connor\u27s guidance for determining whether a compilation or other low authorship work is entitled to copyright protection and, if so, whether the work has been infringed. It was observed forty years ago to make the copyright turnstile revolve, the author should have to deposit more than a penny in the box, and some like measure ought to apply to infringement. This Article explains how much more than a penny is needed to get through the turnstile and that courts have been relatively consistent in applying Feist in a variety of contexts, thereby ensuring that copyright does not improperly extend to facts, ideas, systems and concepts. Traditional case-by-case application of the fundamental principles of Feist is working well and the sweat of the brow rationale for protection has not been resurrected

Topics: Feist Publications, Inc. v. Rural Telephone Services Co., copyrightability, Burrow-Giles Lithographic v. Sarony, BellSouth Advertising \u26 Publishing Co. v. Donnelley Information Publishing, Toro Co. v. R \u26 R Products Co., Business Intelligence, Commercial Law, Intellectual Property Law
Publisher: Digital Commons @ Georgia Law
Year: 2016
OAI identifier: oai:digitalcommons.law.uga.edu:jipl-1293
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