I tweeted via http://twitter.com/scibella

copyright status of old university vacancy ads – publish and be damned? http://bit.ly/htKNm3 @copyrightgirl @IP_Review_UK #IP_Review 5:26 PM Jan 30th via web

Thank you to Emily Goodhand http://copyright4education.blogspot.com/

for taking the time to reply and raising some good points.  My response to her comments are below in blue

@copyrightgirl Emily Goodhand  @scibella that’s a very interesting one! It’s true, the lifespan of a job advert is not long, and the employer would own the copyright…

See final points below

@copyrightgirl Emily Goodhand  @scibella do you absolutely have to use the full-text? Or can you just mine the appropriate data? Copyright does not protect facts – could..

Two sides to this.

1. Practical – I can program to data extract from html structure of JAC ad between two points beginning advert text and end of advert text. At present can’t go down into text to extract paragraphs relevant to a CRIS and exclude general job bumf.  Can probably do but it’s hassle. Anyway, more granularity wouldn’t help – point 2 below.

2. Copyright Law.  Protection extends to a ” substantial part” of the work. This can be very small as in 11 word danish case  (keyword + 5 words on either side to provide context) see:

http://www.farrer.co.uk/index.php?option=com_flexicontent&view=items&cid=191%3Aour_briefings&id=1114%3Acopying-just-11-words-could-be-too-much&Itemid=10

provided that the ““intellectual creation of the author” was copied in that extract.  Even newspaper headlines can be copyright protected:http://www.freehills.com/6830.aspx

I am working on entity extraction programs to go through adverts but what they extract beyond the “facts” of  name,unit, and this is the tricky programming part -a title- would probably be copyright covered. I.e. all context to provide meaning to the title. UK case law seems to be that only “insignificant” = unsubstantial. Everything else- i.e. context that provides significance is substantial. Hey,ho – not much encouragement there to write entity extraction programs.

@copyrightgirl Emily Goodhand @scibella it be argued that this piece of work is purely factual and does not attract sufficient creative originality to be copyrighted?22 hours ago  

I agree a job ad is hardly  Shakespeare or Milton but that doesn’t seem to be the test. UK case law appears to be that creativity = “sweat of the brow” – if it takes some intellectual effort to compose then it is a protected literary work.  see: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sweat_of_the_brow
 
 
Final points:
 
All this makes me wonder if copyright law in the 21st century just “doesn’t get” what the impact of moving from print to web for has been.  I’ll try to explain.
 
In the days of the steam press access to dissemination of information/knowledge was restricted through a few points – publishers- and relatively few people – “writers” who were mostly the “bourgeoisie” and above.  It was not easy to write (pre word processing) & publish so writing and publishing represented substantial effort- intellectual property- which was intended to have a lasting relevance. Rather like crafting by hand a fine piece of furniture- a family heirloom.  Copyright law reflected the values of this class – writing was property  and the law existed as walls and bars to protect this property.
 
With the web has come about a immense “democratisation” of this process and more importantly a change in the purpose of writing/publishing.   Most publication on the web is “ephemera” not intended to last but do a job- passing on information and opinion etc.  via blog, tweet, website etc.  To return to the furniture analogy – it’s Ikea not Chippendale.  A primary purpose of this ephemera is self publicity for individuals and organisations- this is is what I/we think- this is what I/we do. It’s aim is to spread as widely as possible, not to be a creative monument.
 
Yet copyright law still treats this ephemeral side of web publication as valuable IP. The twitter tweets of a 30 something with, we hope, a life expectancy of 90+  are (unless things change)  treated as valuable enough to retain copyright protection well into the 22nd century.
 
Just doesn’t make sense to me. Perhaps the default for web publication should be something like the creative commons CC-BY license, exertion of the moral right of attribution, but no attached economic IP  rights.  I.e. turn the system upside down.. rather than opting-out of protection by CC etc. – opt in  for more substantial work to licensing that preserves IP rights.
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