Bellsouth vs. Donnelley
Burrow-Giles Lithographic Co. v. Sarony
Copyright Code—A Linked Index
Feist Publications vs.
versus Southern Building Code Congress International Inc.,
International v. Meredith Corporation
Trade-Mark Cases, 100
U.S. 82 (1879)
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
side of the page. Another place you might look is the US Copyright Office
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
A work's copyright protection can
only be extended to those parts of a work that are original to the
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)
Copy Right, Copy
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That Just Ain't So
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Fair Use and the DMCA
Not Everything Protected
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