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Content, Writing and Copyright Forum

    
Copying company information
from directories
blue_eagle




msg:922876
 7:34 pm on Aug 1, 2005 (gmt 0)

Hi there,

I am creating a directory about widgets and I will have to create a categorized directory for the widget companies and I would like to use the company name, descriptions, phone #, etc. from a directory and thats all I would like to use from that web site. I believe that the customers of that web site added their descriptions and phone # etc. to that directory. So in other words actually I will be promoting those web sites using their descriptions, etc.

I was wondering if that is considered stealing copyrighted content from the directory. I would appreciate any answer.

Sincerely..

 

jimbeetle




msg:922877
 8:17 pm on Aug 1, 2005 (gmt 0)

I was wondering if that is considered stealing copyrighted content from the directory.

So, if I read what you wrote correctly, you want to create your own directory by copying material from another directory that somebody else spent time and money creating.

Before getting into the legal stuff, ask yourself if you would want somebody else to do this to you.

It's basically very simple: It doesn't matter who you think might have originated the material, or what your motives might be. If you didn't write the material and don't have permission to use it, yeah, that's considered infringement.

blue_eagle




msg:922878
 8:38 pm on Aug 1, 2005 (gmt 0)

Then thing is directory owner didnt write the descriptions of the companies, companies themselves wrote them and I see no reason why would a company would come after me because i am promoting their company.

?/

jimbeetle




msg:922879
 9:12 pm on Aug 1, 2005 (gmt 0)

I must have been a bit to sublte in my first reply, so I'll be a bit more blunt here: What you basically want to do is to rip off somebody else's site for your own gain.

Now that I've gotten that out of my system ;-), let's go back to ownership and permission:

1) You do not own the copyright to the work. The copyright is either owned by the companies who submitted the description, or, possibly, by the directory's terms of service, to the directory itself.

2) You do not have permission from the copyright owners -- whether its the directory site or the submitting companies -- to copy the work.

So, you cannot copy the work. You're going to have to do it the hard way and either get permission from the copyright owners, or write your own descriptions.

shortbus1662




msg:922880
 2:58 am on Aug 2, 2005 (gmt 0)

Jim,

I believe you are jumping the gun and misinterpreting what he is saying.

I think he is saying he wants to start a directory of widget companies.

He wants to list all of the widget companies along with a description and contact information of those widget companies.

He's asking if he can use the companies' own descriptions of their company on his site.
-------------------------------------

That's my interpretation. However, IF the description was in fact created by another site about the widget companies, and in fact not the companies themselves, then I would agree with your statement.
---------------------

I have a "reviews" section listing every company in my industry from the providers, to the providers of the providers (yeah, hard to understand without specifics).

I went to every website and copied from their "about us" pages, then put down contact info, links etc., for employees of the widget companies to review those companies.

I then notified ALL of the companies of their listings (very tedious).

I had some companies ask for things to be changed, and some companies ask that some reviews be removed, but none of them complained about their listing as it was good pub for them...

I'm thinking this is the case here as well...

jimbeetle




msg:922881
 4:14 am on Aug 2, 2005 (gmt 0)

Shortbus, I'm sorry but that's not what was said.

I would like to use the company name, descriptions, phone #, etc. from a directory and thats all I would like to use from that web site.

Above, he wants to copy work from another directory. Somebody, somewhere, somehow wrote these descriptions. Blue_eagle did not.

Again, whether the descriptions were written by the companies submitting the entry, or by the directory itself, it doesn't really matter: no other party owns the right to copy it.

<added>
You'll also notice that this statement and question was not addressed or answered:

So, if I read what you wrote correctly, you want to create your own directory by copying material from another directory that somebody else spent time and money creating.

Before getting into the legal stuff, ask yourself if you would want somebody else to do this to you.

</added>

madmac




msg:922882
 4:54 am on Aug 3, 2005 (gmt 0)

Factual material generally is not copyrightable. For example, nobody can claim they own the copyright to what a company's name, address, and telephone number are. (however, the company itself can trademark its name, which restricts use in certain situations).

See the famous (or perhaps infamous if you're a telephone directory publisher) 1991 Supreme Court case of FEIST v. RURAL in which the court ruled that for protection "the constitutional requirement necessitates independent creation plus a modicum of creativity."

Their basic findings were that facts don't owe their creation or origin to an act of authorship, are not original, and therefore are not copyrightable.

They also found that although a compilation of facts does possess the requirement of originality to some degree, protection only extends to the areas of the work original to the author, and not the facts themselves. They stated, "A compilation is not copyrightable per se, but is copyrightable only if its facts have been 'selected, coordinated, or arranged in such a way that the resulting work as a whole constitutes an original work of authorship'"

The suit was one telephone company suing another for copying a large portion of their white pages. The court found that while the directory as a whole was copyrightable (because of yellow pages, and some other original works), the whitepages alone were not because they were raw facts arranged in an unoriginal and obvious way (name, town, telephone number).

As I see it, you are absolutely within your legal rights to place the company's name, address, and telephone number in your directory. These are raw facts, and public facts at that.

However, the descriptions would be copyrightable because they more than likely contain original authorship and some degree of creativity. For that, you'll want to either get permission or write your own.

You might also want to look around each company's website. Alot of companies will have a section with press/media information. Many have a generic press kit or similar that contains info and description of the company that can be used for press and media. And I would definitely consider a directory to be media.

reli




msg:922883
 6:42 pm on Aug 7, 2005 (gmt 0)

I agree with shortbus and others - I've taken directories and repackaged them by double-checking the facts, writing my own descriptions, and adding new data (facts, usually) that were not on the original lists. I say "lists" because there are always different lists of Widget Makers to scour for company names. I also found that I needed to classify as I expanded the list, into "Small Widgets", "Large Widgets", "Integrated Widgets", etc. At most, the original directory was simply the inspiration to make a better directory.

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