[thelist] stolen content

Keith cache at dowebs.com
Tue Nov 6 19:15:27 CST 2001

> The list of therapists on that page has been stolen by another site...

As I understand it, the data is not protected by copyright, only the 
data's 'presentation' is protected. If your list was on a static page 
there's little you can do to prevent this 'theft'. Even a search engine 
might provide your list depending on the query one used. You 
obviously spent time and energy compiling that list and that time 
and energy was 'stolen', but not the data itself which you made 
available. You might sue on the theft of effort, but not on copyright 
grounds unless the other site quoted your list (and code) verbatim.

If the list was available to a browser then it is legal for someone to 
compile a list of therapists from your site, at least in USA.  Courts 
have ruled that data which is permissioned as available a browser 
etc. and not protected by password authentication is fair game.  A 
site cannot legally dictate how data is used once the data is made 
available to the public. Suppose you had published the list in a 
newspaper or magazine and they had used that to put up a list on 
their website? Same thing.

I had a similar problem on a site for a PPO. We have thousands of 
doctors, clinics, therapists, hospitals etc available on the site so 
patients can find a participating provider. The full list however is 
also of extreme value to our client's competitors. The list is 
available only through CGI requests, purposefully designed to return 
small chunks of the list matching the query and queries are 
designed to frustrate an attempt to manually extract the full list. We 
also built in a way to reject requests from a robot trying to 'milk' the 
database. But if someone does indeed get the list from our site, 
there is no legal remedy, we're the ones who made it available.

Frustrating isn't it! Information is power, and making it available is 
an excersise of that power, and a dilution of that power.


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