[thelist] Data Mining

Angie Ahl angie at vertebrate.co.uk
Wed Jan 2 07:14:35 CST 2002

I need to point something out here that's so often misunderstood... 
this is really simplified and I'm not a lawyer...

Copyright exists as soon as a person starts a piece of work. It 
doesn't even have to be a finished work to be copyrighted, just 
documented (ie if it's in your head you have no documentary evidence 
and cannot prove you came up with an idea first).

An individual or group of individuals does NOT have to put the 
copyright symbol on an article or web page for them to have 
copyright. It exists by default. If you wrote it, it's your's whether 
you say so or not.

There are exceptions for people employed by another to create 
something for them, best talk to a lawyer if you have any doubt's 
over this.

Of course defending your copyright in court is easier if you've made 
it clear that it is yours. That's why people do it.

If you're trying to extract sections of a directory like Yahoo it 
becomes really grey as technically they own the listing but they 
don't own the sites listed so it's a toughie.

Contact the website owner and see if they are happy to let you use 
their content. It helps to put links back to the original site as a 
courtesy. But unless you've got the site owners permission you're 
probably breaking copyright somewhere.

Just using their table layout with the results could be close to 
crossing the line. A designer has copyright on a site too :-)

Important note:
Information being public does not mean that that info is in the 
public domain. not in respect to copyright law anyway.
You read a synopsis of a book on the web, this doesn't mean the 
author let go of his copyright or moral rights to show the world the 

If anything this is the point of copyright, so a person can 
publish/create a work without everyone else being able to claim it's 
theirs the second they read it, it's for your protection as well as 
the big corporations.

Copyright is a mine field which is why lawyers make so much money try 
to protect someone's copyright, it's not clean cut sadly.

If you didn't write it, ask the person who did. If you have an email 
from them saying you may use it then you're clear.

I do know a few search engines let you use their content. generally 
you either pay for it or link to one of their pages so their banners 
are still there etc.

Of course there's nothing to stop you using their directory to 
compile your list of links. However if you're actually calling a file 
off of their server you are directly using their content

definitely ask them.



>  > It depends what the data is. Explain in more detail please.
>That data in this case would be the contents of the directory or part of
>it, like the web design category under yahoo for a specific region and
>any other directory listing for that example.
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