Copy Right, Copy Sense




Bellsouth vs. Donnelley

Burrow-Giles Lithographic Co. v. Sarony

Copyright CodeA Linked Index

Feist Publications vs. Rural Telephone

Peter Veeck versus Southern Building Code Congress International Inc.,

Publications International  v. Meredith Corporation

Trade-Mark Cases, 100 U.S. 82 (1879)

U.S. Constitution, Article 1, Section 8

Information on this site cannot be considered legal advice.  If you need legal advice on copyright, please consult an attorney or refer to one or more of the sponsor links on the right side of the page. Another place you might look is the US Copyright Office web site.

The copyright information on this site applies to U.S. Copyright, unless otherwise stated.

Just Because A Work Is Copyrighted Doesn't Mean Everything In It Is

A work's copyright protection can only be extended to those parts of a work that are original to the author.

When the author clothes facts or ideas with an original description or other original collection of words, then this written expression may be protected. However, the underlying facts or ideas may be copied by others, but not the precise words used to present them. If a compiler adds no written expression and only lets the facts speak for themselves, the protection of copyright may only be extended to the originality of the selection and/or arrangement, if there is any originality.

One aspect of this that is often misunderstood is that the copyright of a work in no way can have an impact on the status of pre-existing material. If the work contains information that is in the public domain or is copyrighted by another individual, then that portion of the work is still in the public domain or still covered by the copyright of the other individual, as the case may be. This is a very important point in genealogy. The majority of information in any genealogical work is in the public domain by virtue of being facts or presumed facts. The copyright status of the work that they are contained in does not remove them from being in the public domain. The facts contained in existing compilations, which is what most genealogical works are, “may be freely copied because copyright protects only the elements that owe their origin to the compiler -- the selection, coordination, and arrangements of facts.” (Feist)

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Copyright Articles:

What is Copyright?

My Copyright Infringement

How to Deal With Online Media Pirates

Copyright Fundamentals for Genealogy

My Copyright was Infringed!

What is NOT protected by copyright?

Copyright Claims That Just Ain't So


Copyright Concepts:

Authors Labor

Authors Rights

Civil or Criminal?



Copyright Facts

Copyright Notice


Electronic Mail

Fair Use

Fair Use and the DMCA

Foreign Works

From Creation


Inadvertent Infringement


Infringement Remedies

Licenses and Notices

Not Everything Protected






Public Domain

Purpose of Copyright

Really Copyrighted?

U.S. Government Works

What's Protected -

Who Owns the Law? -

Work Place Training


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© 2005, Michael Goad