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Choosing a directory structure
Is DMOZ copyrighted?
Tiebreaker




msg:472137
 4:33 pm on Jul 31, 2005 (gmt 0)

Hi

Just planning to set up a directory of my own and have read that the DMOZ catagory structure is copyrighted - not referring to the actual content here - I'm talking about the basic folder structure of catagories within catagories.

This has me confused - because just about every directory out there seems to follow the DMOZ structure (not talking about DMOZ clones, which obviously do) - so is it legal or not?

Common sense would say that organising things in the same way as DMOZ would make it easier for users - because they know what catagories to list their site in - but I don't want to open myself up to copyright problems later on!

 

hutcheson




msg:472138
 5:42 pm on Aug 1, 2005 (gmt 0)

The ODP is copyrighted, and that includes the directory structure.

Re-use of the directory structure is not explicitly covered in the ODP license, but I know that in the past, other entities have obtained (free as in no-cost and IIRC "no 'consideration' in exchange") permission to use just the directory structure.

What do you have in mind? A website directory, or some other re-use?

Caveat: I'm just an editor, and can't give or withhold permission; for a formal answer you'd probably have to contact "staff at dmoz dot com".

Event_King




msg:472139
 5:49 pm on Aug 1, 2005 (gmt 0)

I think direct copying of design work is illegal. Content copying is illegal, and also trademarked things like logos is very very illegal.

hutcheson




msg:472140
 6:33 pm on Aug 1, 2005 (gmt 0)

Copying is perfectly legal, the law is a bit more nuanced than that. Copying copyrighted content with "significant creative aspects of some sort" WITHOUT PERMISSION is illegal. And the ODP directory structure is both copyrightable and copyrighted.

BUT: since the ODP content was created to give away, it's (I think) fairly likely that they'd be willing to give you permission to copy that part -- but you'd be safer to ask.

walkman




msg:472141
 6:36 pm on Aug 1, 2005 (gmt 0)

Tiebreaker,
you might want to read the Google forums before you even start. Google is cracking down on copycat directories.

hutcheson




msg:472142
 8:54 pm on Aug 1, 2005 (gmt 0)

If I understood correctly, tiebreaker was going to create a completely new directory or other reference, without using ODP LISTINGS, but using ODP CATEGORIES. So there wouldn't be the usual "duplicate content."

But I may have read more into it than was said, and of course if you're referring to just copying ODP listings with the categories, yes, absolutely, "duplicate content abounds."

Event_King




msg:472143
 11:22 pm on Aug 1, 2005 (gmt 0)

You aren't allowed to copy categories. I'm pretty sure about that as Reed Business Information who own Kellysearch.com states the following:

"No part of this publication may be reproduced or used in any form or by any means graphic, electronic, including photocopying, recording, taping or information storage without the WRITTEN permission of the publisher.

This is interesting: "The publication - in whole or part - may not be used to prepare or compile other directories." "Measures have been adopted during the preparation of this directory which will assist the publishers to PROTECT their copyright." But it only
mentions legal action about the use of unauthorised data. I guess that means the companies held within.

Still seeing as Reed invented the categories, they must surely belong to Reed. Also if they were copied exactly, whoever copied them could be mistaken as a Reed company? Possibly? Maybe then Reed would have a case?

I dunno as I'm not a lawyer.

skibum




msg:472144
 5:53 am on Aug 2, 2005 (gmt 0)

We're talking about the Open Directory Project here, which is much more open about reuse of its content. Since it is not a commercial directory they have a much different policy on what may or may not be done with the data. More info can be found on the Open Directory License Page [dmoz.org]

roldar




msg:472145
 6:04 am on Aug 2, 2005 (gmt 0)

I read his post in a more general sense than that he wanted to copy the DMOZ category names verbatim.

I think he'd like to make a general directory covering broad areas, with folders within folders, named in a similar logical manner as that employed by DMOZ. This concept is not copyrighted, and cannot be copyrighted.

However, if you were to go to DMOZ and copy the exact names or exact structure of their folders, that could potentially be a problem. Not because they have some kind of patent on it, but for the same reason you can't copy another person's "my favorite links" page.

But I may have read the post incorrectly. Always consult a lawyer if you're unsure.

Tiebreaker




msg:472146
 7:29 am on Aug 2, 2005 (gmt 0)

Thanks for the replies everyone

>>> If I understood correctly, tiebreaker was going to create a completely new directory or other reference, without using ODP LISTINGS, but using ODP CATEGORIES. So there wouldn't be the usual "duplicate content."

Exactly Correct

I don't want a scrap of content from the actual listings, or from anything else - I just thought it would be sensible to organise my catagories in the same fashion.

Naturally, I'm aware of the whole dmoz clones / duplicate content issues - so I'm not interested in taking any dmoz content - not even a tiny amount to seed it.

In fact, I'm so anxious to make sure that everything is 100% unique, quality content, that I may decide to go with a directory structure of my own creation too - just to avoid the remote chance that someone may confuse it with a dmoz clone!

I'm pretty sure dmoz would give permission to use the directory structure - but it would be a problem for me if they required a credit on the website - I don't want the word 'dmoz' published anywhere - even in this innocent context - for the same reasons as above.

I will probably email "staff at dmoz dot org" as suggested to clarify the issue - the copyright statement on the site is not exactly clear on the issue of the directory structure - although I know it is copyrighted.

Tiebreaker




msg:472147
 7:44 am on Aug 2, 2005 (gmt 0)

Thanks for the replies everyone

>>> If I understood correctly, tiebreaker was going to create a completely new directory or other reference, without using ODP LISTINGS, but using ODP CATEGORIES. So there wouldn't be the usual "duplicate content."

Exactly Correct

I don't want a scrap of content from the actual listings, or from anything else - I just thought it would be sensible to organise my catagories in the same fashion.

Naturally, I'm aware of the whole dmoz clones / duplicate content issues - so I'm not interested in taking any dmoz content - not even a tiny amount to seed it.

In fact, I'm so anxious to make sure that everything is 100% unique, quality content, that I may decide to go with a directory structure of my own creation too - just to avoid the remote chance that someone may confuse it with a dmoz clone!

I'm pretty sure dmoz would give permission to use the directory structure - but it would be a problem for me if they required a credit on the website - I don't want the word 'dmoz' published anywhere - even in this innocent context - for the same reasons as above.

I will probably email "staff at dmoz dot org" as suggested to clarify the issue - the copyright statement on the site is not exactly clear on the issue of the directory structure - although I know it is copyrighted.

Tiebreaker




msg:472148
 7:47 am on Aug 2, 2005 (gmt 0)

Hey - How did I double post?

Now I've triple posted! - stop me someone :-)

fischermx




msg:472149
 6:24 pm on Aug 4, 2005 (gmt 0)

I don't know if it is copyrighted or not.
But DMOZ content is free to be copied, both the categories and the listings.
They even have a category of sites using their content:
[dmoz.org...]

They have a section named "Using ODP data"
[dmoz.org...]

Which starts with "Anyone can use the ODP's data. It is available to the general public, and 100% free to use."

Of course, you must agree their license.

hutcheson




msg:472150
 9:20 pm on Aug 4, 2005 (gmt 0)

It is definitely copyrighted -- anything that involves creative effort is automatically copyright by its creator (i.e. editors) Editors agree to assign their copyrights in their own work (that is, the website listings they create) to AOL/Netscape; the ODP social contract, in turn, promises editors that their work will be made available freely (that is, no cost at all, no restrictions on modifications, and no obligation except proper attribution).

fischermx




msg:472151
 3:52 pm on Aug 5, 2005 (gmt 0)

.... and that means that the categories alone could be used for other directory as long as the other directory gives the proper attribution to DMOZ?

Tiebreaker




msg:472152
 7:48 am on Aug 6, 2005 (gmt 0)

I think I've made an executive decision to create my own, slightly different structure - I don't want to have to give a credit to dmoz on my site.

That way is a bit harder - something else that I need to spend time planning before I start - but it's got to be better in the long run.

Dynamoo




msg:472153
 11:01 am on Aug 8, 2005 (gmt 0)

The ontology of DMOZ is an intellectual work in its own right, so re-use *would* come under the license arrangements.

However.. I understand that the bare bones of the ontology (going waaay back to 1998) were based on Usenet news, which is a similarly themed hierarchical structure. Some careful study of the way Usenet is structured might allow you to build a workable directory.

hutcheson




msg:472154
 3:23 pm on Aug 8, 2005 (gmt 0)

Note that the ODP taxonomy is shaped by the interests of webmasters and surfers -- the former create sites that have particular kinds of focus, the latter find sites that interest them. The trick (and it is sometimes a hard trick) is to find some way of correlating those two very different kinds of data. The other point is that, if your interests and your pool of sites is different than ours (as it surely will be), our taxonomy may not fit.

So I think your best bet is to develop a taxonomy that fits your way of thinking, your interests, and the kinds of sites you intend to list -- using the ODP taxonomy will be harder than you think.

But I (and, I think, any other ODP editors) would be happy to see you use its taxonomy. It's your choice.

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