Copyright (was Re: [sword-devel] John Gill)

Paul Gear
Wed, 05 Jul 2000 18:19:29 +1000

Paul Gear wrote:
> Chris Little wrote:
> >
> > See the US Copyright Office circular entitled "Copyright Registration for
> > Derivative Works" ( for the
> > rules on "derivative works".  My favorite passage of the circular is: "To be
> > copyrightable, a derivative work must be different enough from the original
> > to be regarded as a ?new work? or must contain a substantial amount of new
> > material. Making minor changes or additions of little substance to a
> > preexisting work will not qualify the work as a new version for copyright
> > purposes. The new material must be original and copyright-able in itself.
> > Titles, short phrases, and format, for example, are not copyrightable."  In
> > other words, roman to arabic, corrections, & formatting aren't even
> > copyrightable.
> Ah, but i think you'll find that inserting the correct Strongs numbers
> or Greek morph codes into a KJV would be enough to constitute this (at
> least for the courts).

Some more on this...

Brandon Staggs wrote:
> For something to be copyrighten it needs to be a creative work. Somehow he
> believes that having volunteers type it in, then correcting errors, and
> don't forget: changing roman numberals to digits is a creative work.
> It would never hold up in a court of law.

Jerry Hastings wrote:
> ...
> Copyright is not based on labor, effort ,difficulty or time and money
> invested.
> Copyright is based on creativity. (the bar seems to be getting lower)

I can't speak for American copyright law, but for British and Australian
law, there is definitely _no_ requirement that creativity be involved. 
We recently had some copyright and intellectual property lawyers come to
speak at the Queensland AUUG conference
<>, and they made this very

They cited an example where a list of football games was published in a
newspaper for a tipping competition (for those of you who aren't
familiar with such things, they are informal gambling cooperatives among
members of the same workplace or other organisation).  There was no
creativity involved in drawing it up - they just reproduced the match
list put out by the football association.  They asserted copyright over
it.  Someone then copied and distributed the list, and the newspaper
successfully sued the person who copied it.  (I'm not sure whether there
were damages awarded.)

Similarly, language dictionaries have as part of their reason for being
the need to be distinctly _un-creative_ (i.e. they exist to reflect
accepted usage, not new or original forms).  Yet copyright is frequently
asserted over them, and with good reason, because they are a huge
undertaking that deserves some protection in the publishing arena for a
period of time.

"He must become greater; i must become less." - John 3:30