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« Copyright Term flowchart from Bromberg & Sunstein LLP | Main | California RFID Legislation Rejected »

July 06, 2004

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I agree that in this country (unlike the UK), formatting is not copyrightable. The Globe example is even more problematic, since the "formatting" of the page is a product of Javascript, style sheets, and advertising that is dynamically generated by a request from a browser. Before I requested it, the "page" with the Declaration of Independence never existed. Can software be the "author" of a copyrighted work?

You can copyright original expression - I can't think of a case where formatting enough is sufficient. (Can you?)

In fact, in the West case, the publisher claimed that it had copyright in its page numbers...which happened to fall in certain places based on formatting. The court said that was unoriginal and didn't warrant copyright protection.

Added original expression such as comments, abstracts etc. would be copyrightable

I suspect the Globe would say that they are copyrighting their formatting. There are a lot of organizations that do this, for example the copy of the Declaration at the Yale Avalon Project also has "© 1996-2003 The Avalon Project at Yale Law School." (I contacted Yale once about redistributing online Nuremberg Trial documents and they told me in no uncertain terms that while the government work was in the public domain, their HTML of it was copyrighted.) Another interesting thing is Google Groups, the HTML of which has "©2004 Google" at the bottom, but if you click on the Original Format link it does not. Looks like I found the Declaration there, too, by searching for "extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction."

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