Yellow Pages Not Copyright

Discussion in 'NZ Computing' started by Lawrence D'Oliveiro, Feb 15, 2010.

  1. <http://computerworld.co.nz/news.nsf/newmedia/court-shock-right-to-copy-directories-upheld>:

    The case affirmed that factual databases, such as a telephone directory,
    residential listings or event schedules, are not covered by copyright
    law and therefore can be duplicated by anybody, including commercial
    competitors.

    Of course, you’ve got a lawyer for yellow.co.nz saying Australian and NZ
    copyright law are “differentâ€. But why should they be, on such a fundamental
    point?
     
    Lawrence D'Oliveiro, Feb 15, 2010
    #1
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  2. Lawrence D'Oliveiro

    peterwn Guest

    On Feb 15, 10:24 pm, Lawrence D'Oliveiro <l...@geek-
    central.gen.new_zealand> wrote:
    > <http://computerworld.co.nz/news.nsf/newmedia/court-shock-right-to-cop...>:
    >
    >     The case affirmed that factual databases, such as a telephone directory,
    >     residential listings or event schedules, are not covered by copyright
    >     law and therefore can be duplicated by anybody, including commercial
    >     competitors.
    >
    > Of course, you’ve got a lawyer for yellow.co.nz saying Australian and NZ
    > copyright law are “different”. But why should they be, on such a fundamental
    > point?


    Case law can diverge between Australia and New Zealand. AFAIK, NZ
    copyright legislation is based on old English copyright law (since
    revamped AFAIK). Interestingly, no NZ cases seemed to be mentioned but
    the hoary old copyright cases were - both Australia and England.

    This decision seems to be an 'about face' compared with Desktop
    Marketing v Telstra which Telstra won (note there was an appeal on
    that one). It will need careful reading of the cases to see the
    differences. It is more complex than 'Telstra lost this one, therefore
    it is open season on Yellow Pages' both in Australia and NZ.

    Computerworld very kindly linked to the judgment (via 'Justice Gorden
    ruled that').
     
    peterwn, Feb 15, 2010
    #2
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  3. Lawrence D'Oliveiro

    Sweetpea Guest

    On Mon, 15 Feb 2010 22:24:01 +1300, Lawrence D'Oliveiro wrote:

    > <http://computerworld.co.nz/news.nsf/newmedia/court-shock-right-to-copy-directories-upheld>:
    >
    > The case affirmed that factual databases, such as a telephone
    > directory, residential listings or event schedules, are not covered
    > by copyright law and therefore can be duplicated by anybody,
    > including commercial competitors.
    >
    > Of course, you’ve got a lawyer for yellow.co.nz saying Australian and NZ
    > copyright law are “differentâ€. But why should they be, on such a
    > fundamental point?


    I thought that the Yellow Pages was merely a compilation of adverts for businesses whereas the White
    Pages was an alphabetical listing of telephone subscribers?


    --
    "Filtering the Internet is like trying to boil the ocean"
     
    Sweetpea, Feb 15, 2010
    #3
  4. Lawrence D'Oliveiro

    peterwn Guest

    On Feb 16, 7:19 am, Sweetpea <> wrote:
    > On Mon, 15 Feb 2010 22:24:01 +1300, Lawrence D'Oliveiro wrote:
    > > <http://computerworld.co.nz/news.nsf/newmedia/court-shock-right-to-cop....>:

    >
    > >     The case affirmed that factual databases, such as a telephone
    > >     directory, residential listings or event schedules, are not covered
    > >     by copyright law and therefore can be duplicated by anybody,
    > >     including commercial competitors.

    >
    > > Of course, you’ve got a lawyer for yellow.co.nz saying Australian and NZ
    > > copyright law are “different”. But why should they be, on such a
    > > fundamental point?

    >
    > I thought that the Yellow Pages was merely a compilation of adverts for businesses whereas the White
    > Pages was an alphabetical listing of telephone subscribers?
    >


    Historically all 'business' customers (those that Telecom will not
    sign up as 'residential') were entitled to one free Yellow Pages
    listing but could sign up for listings under extra categories and for
    display advertisments. When the Post Office ran the phone system, the
    Yellow Pages would have been about the only truly commercial
    enterprise the Government ran.

    AFAIK, a business customer now has to arrange White and Yellow pages
    listings separately from ordering a phone but presumably still get one
    free listing in each. The default is a 'silent' number.
     
    peterwn, Feb 15, 2010
    #4
  5. Lawrence D'Oliveiro

    Matty F Guest

    On Feb 15, 11:33 pm, peterwn <> wrote:
    > On Feb 15, 10:24 pm, Lawrence D'Oliveiro <l...@geek-
    >
    > central.gen.new_zealand> wrote:
    > > <http://computerworld.co.nz/news.nsf/newmedia/court-shock-right-to-cop....>:

    >
    > > The case affirmed that factual databases, such as a telephone directory,
    > > residential listings or event schedules, are not covered by copyright
    > > law and therefore can be duplicated by anybody, including commercial
    > > competitors.

    >
    > > Of course, you’ve got a lawyer for yellow.co.nz saying Australian and NZ
    > > copyright law are “different”. But why should they be, on such a fundamental
    > > point?

    >
    > Case law can diverge between Australia and New Zealand. AFAIK, NZ
    > copyright legislation is based on old English copyright law (since
    > revamped AFAIK). Interestingly, no NZ cases seemed to be mentioned but
    > the hoary old copyright cases were - both Australia and England.


    A NZ judge a few years ago found that a yellow pages competitor was
    not allowed to use the word yellow, and charged the competitor $30,000
    court costs, thus putting them out of business.
    Now that "yellow" is not copyrighted or whatever stupid legal term
    applies, when is the $30,000 going to be paid back?
     
    Matty F, Feb 16, 2010
    #5
  6. In message <d1c0e599-1aed-46fc-a230-
    >, Matty F wrote:

    > A NZ judge a few years ago found that a yellow pages competitor was
    > not allowed to use the word yellow, and charged the competitor $30,000
    > court costs, thus putting them out of business.
    > Now that "yellow" is not copyrighted or whatever stupid legal term
    > applies, when is the $30,000 going to be paid back?


    That would have been a trademark issue. As far as I’m aware (IANAL),
    trademarks are not supposed to mean anything. So a company providing a
    telephone directory couldn’t trademark the words “telephone directoryâ€. But
    “yellow†doesn’t mean anything in the context of a telephone directory
    business, so it can legitimately be used as part of a name to distinguish
    your company from competitors—i.e. a trademark.
     
    Lawrence D'Oliveiro, Feb 16, 2010
    #6
  7. Lawrence D'Oliveiro

    victor Guest

    Matty F wrote:

    >
    > A NZ judge a few years ago found that a yellow pages competitor was
    > not allowed to use the word yellow, and charged the competitor $30,000
    > court costs, thus putting them out of business.
    > Now that "yellow" is not copyrighted or whatever stupid legal term
    > applies, when is the $30,000 going to be paid back?


    Never
    Yellow Pages is still trademarked
     
    victor, Feb 16, 2010
    #7
  8. Lawrence D'Oliveiro

    peterwn Guest

    On Feb 16, 8:33 pm, whoisthis <> wrote:
    > In article
    > <>,
    >  Matty F <> wrote:
    >
    >
    >
    > > On Feb 15, 11:33 pm, peterwn <> wrote:
    > > > On Feb 15, 10:24 pm, Lawrence D'Oliveiro <l...@geek-

    >
    > > > central.gen.new_zealand> wrote:
    > > > > <http://computerworld.co.nz/news.nsf/newmedia/court-shock-right-to-cop...>
    > > > > :

    >
    > > > >     The case affirmed that factual databases, such as a telephone
    > > > >     directory,
    > > > >     residential listings or event schedules, are not covered by copyright
    > > > >     law and therefore can be duplicated by anybody, including commercial
    > > > >     competitors.

    >
    > > > > Of course, you ve got a lawyer for yellow.co.nz saying Australian and NZ
    > > > > copyright law are different . But why should they be, on such a
    > > > > fundamental
    > > > > point?

    >
    > > > Case law can diverge between Australia and New Zealand.  AFAIK, NZ
    > > > copyright legislation is based on old English copyright law (since
    > > > revamped AFAIK). Interestingly, no NZ cases seemed to be mentioned but
    > > > the hoary old copyright cases were - both Australia and England.

    >
    > > A NZ judge a few years ago found that a yellow pages competitor was
    > > not allowed to use the word yellow, and charged the competitor $30,000
    > > court costs, thus putting them out of business.
    > > Now that "yellow" is not copyrighted or whatever stupid legal term
    > > applies, when is the $30,000 going to be paid back?

    >
    > Australia does not equal New Zealand.


    Be that as it may, there are many similarities in the two countries'
    IP law, and the judges of both countries will hold precedents from the
    other in high regard unless they conflict with statutory law.
     
    peterwn, Feb 16, 2010
    #8
  9. Lawrence D'Oliveiro

    peterwn Guest

    On Feb 16, 11:10 am, John Smith <> wrote:
    > Lawrence D'Oliveiro wrote:
    > > <http://computerworld.co.nz/news.nsf/newmedia/court-shock-right-to-cop....>:

    >
    > >     The case affirmed that factual databases, such as a telephone directory,
    > >     residential listings or event schedules, are not covered by copyright
    > >     law and therefore can be duplicated by anybody, including commercial
    > >     competitors.

    >
    > > Of course, you’ve got a lawyer for yellow.co.nz saying Australian and NZ
    > > copyright law are “different”. But why should they be, on such a fundamental
    > > point?

    >
    > We will have to wait and see.


    See:
    http://jdo.justice.govt.nz/jdo/GetJudgment/?judgmentID=164961

    This concerns a successful injunction application against a NZ Yellow
    Pages imposter. In essence, they stripped Yellow Pages database and
    repackaged it as their own. This included business and geographic
    categorisation which is the copyright aspect Yellow Pages relied on. A
    similar application in Australia would probably have succeeded. If
    there is strong prima facie evidence that the alleged imposter
    utilised in some way the original, the chances of a successful
    injunction application skyrockets.

    If you want to publish your own Purple Pages (or whatever), then visit
    each business and professional in NZ and obtain names, addresses,
    phone numbers and areas of business. Yellow Pages will not be able to
    touch you. If your feet get sore you can grab a Yellow Pages, phone
    every firm in the Yellow Pages and ask for similar information.
    Yellow Pages would not be able to touch you. You might be able to
    scan Yellow Pages (or strip the database) to build up your basic name/
    address/ phone number file with impunity, but if you accidentally let
    through a 'trap' entry you could be in it.

    If you get lazy and simply copy through the business catergories, the
    trap will spring shut on you - in NZ or Oz.

    Someone one day may get a Manila 'boiler room' telemarketing centre to
    ring every number in the Yellow Pages, and re-enter business
    categories advised by the respective businesses. When this happens
    big cracks may start appearing in the Yellow Pages monopoly.
     
    peterwn, Feb 16, 2010
    #9
  10. In message <6dab9446-d2a0-4dca-
    >, peterwn wrote:

    > See:
    > http://jdo.justice.govt.nz/jdo/GetJudgment/?judgmentID=164961
    >
    > This concerns a successful injunction application against a NZ Yellow
    > Pages imposter. In essence, they stripped Yellow Pages database and
    > repackaged it as their own. This included business and geographic
    > categorisation which is the copyright aspect Yellow Pages relied on. A
    > similar application in Australia would probably have succeeded.


    What about the White Pages? Are they copyrightable in NZ as well?
     
    Lawrence D'Oliveiro, Feb 16, 2010
    #10
  11. Lawrence D'Oliveiro

    peterwn Guest

    On Feb 16, 9:37 pm, Lawrence D'Oliveiro <l...@geek-
    central.gen.new_zealand> wrote:
    > In message <6dab9446-d2a0-4dca-
    >
    > >, peterwn wrote:
    > > See:
    > >http://jdo.justice.govt.nz/jdo/GetJudgment/?judgmentID=164961

    >
    > > This concerns a successful injunction application against a NZ Yellow
    > > Pages imposter.  In essence, they stripped Yellow Pages database and
    > > repackaged it as their own. This included business and geographic
    > > categorisation which is the copyright aspect Yellow Pages relied on. A
    > > similar application in Australia would probably have succeeded.

    >
    > What about the White Pages? Are they copyrightable in NZ as well?


    An on target case is:
    Feist Publications Inc v. Rural Telephone Service Co 499 US 340
    (1991) which is a USA Supreme Court decision.

    The essence was that the mere collection of names, addresses and phone
    numbers was not a creative work, so Feist did not breach copyright by
    re-compiling them into its own White Pages. In a contemporary
    situation a directory compiler would try and argue that there was
    creative effort in sorting and verifying the information hence there
    was a creative element in the final listing making it subject to
    copyright. However it it would be harder to show creative effort in
    White Pages as compared with Yellow Pages. There would be less
    incentive to produce competing editions of White Pages. The lucrative
    aspects of the business are the sale of extra listings and display
    advertising in the Yellow (and to some extent White) Pages and the
    sale of databases of Yellow Pages information which is used for
    marketing purposes.
     
    peterwn, Feb 16, 2010
    #11
  12. In message <>,
    peterwn wrote:

    > On Feb 16, 9:37 pm, Lawrence D'Oliveiro <_zealand> wrote:
    >
    >> What about the White Pages? Are they copyrightable in NZ as well?

    >
    > An on target case is:
    > Feist Publications Inc v. Rural Telephone Service Co 499 US 340
    > (1991) which is a USA Supreme Court decision.
    >
    > The essence was that the mere collection of names, addresses and phone
    > numbers was not a creative work ...


    Yeah, I heard about that case. But would it apply in NZ?

    Another related question is whether TV program schedules are copyrightable
    or not.
     
    Lawrence D'Oliveiro, Feb 16, 2010
    #12
  13. Lawrence D'Oliveiro

    Sweetpea Guest

    On Mon, 15 Feb 2010 11:38:37 -0800, peterwn wrote:

    > On Feb 16, 7:19 am, Sweetpea <> wrote:
    >> On Mon, 15 Feb 2010 22:24:01 +1300, Lawrence D'Oliveiro wrote:
    >> > <http://computerworld.co.nz/news.nsf/newmedia/court-shock-right-to-cop...>:

    >>
    >> >     The case affirmed that factual databases, such as a telephone
    >> >     directory, residential listings or event schedules, are not
    >> >     covered by copyright law and therefore can be duplicated by
    >> >     anybody, including commercial competitors.

    >>
    >> > Of course, you’ve got a lawyer for yellow.co.nz saying Australian and
    >> > NZ copyright law are “differentâ€. But why should they be, on such a
    >> > fundamental point?

    >>
    >> I thought that the Yellow Pages was merely a compilation of adverts for
    >> businesses whereas the White Pages was an alphabetical listing of
    >> telephone subscribers?
    >>
    >>

    > Historically all 'business' customers (those that Telecom will not sign
    > up as 'residential') were entitled to one free Yellow Pages listing but
    > could sign up for listings under extra categories and for display
    > advertisments. When the Post Office ran the phone system, the Yellow
    > Pages would have been about the only truly commercial enterprise the
    > Government ran.
    >
    > AFAIK, a business customer now has to arrange White and Yellow pages
    > listings separately from ordering a phone but presumably still get one
    > free listing in each. The default is a 'silent' number.


    Funny that. For residential numbers users have to pay for unlisted/"silent" numbers.

    Why should the treatment be different merely because one subscriber is deemed to be commercial and
    the other residential?


    --
    "Filtering the Internet is like trying to boil the ocean"
     
    Sweetpea, Feb 16, 2010
    #13
  14. Lawrence D'Oliveiro

    peterwn Guest

    On Feb 16, 11:24 pm, Sweetpea <> wrote:
    > On Mon, 15 Feb 2010 11:38:37 -0800, peterwn wrote:
    > > On Feb 16, 7:19 am, Sweetpea <> wrote:
    > >> On Mon, 15 Feb 2010 22:24:01 +1300, Lawrence D'Oliveiro wrote:
    > >> > <http://computerworld.co.nz/news.nsf/newmedia/court-shock-right-to-cop...>:

    >
    > >> >     The case affirmed that factual databases, such as a telephone
    > >> >     directory, residential listings or event schedules, are not
    > >> >     covered by copyright law and therefore can be duplicated by
    > >> >     anybody, including commercial competitors.

    >
    > >> > Of course, you’ve got a lawyer for yellow.co.nz saying Australian and
    > >> > NZ copyright law are “different”. But why should they be, on such a
    > >> > fundamental point?

    >
    > >> I thought that the Yellow Pages was merely a compilation of adverts for
    > >> businesses whereas the White Pages was an alphabetical listing of
    > >> telephone subscribers?

    >
    > > Historically all 'business' customers (those that Telecom will not sign
    > > up as 'residential') were entitled to one free Yellow Pages listing but
    > > could sign up for listings under extra categories and for display
    > > advertisments. When the Post Office ran the phone system, the Yellow
    > > Pages would have been about the only truly commercial enterprise the
    > > Government ran.

    >
    > > AFAIK, a business customer now has to arrange White and Yellow pages
    > > listings separately from ordering a phone but presumably still get one
    > > free listing in each.  The default is a 'silent' number.

    >
    > Funny that. For residential numbers users have to pay for unlisted/"silent" numbers.


    Is this still the case? When directory service was free, there was
    some logic to this as people with unlisted numbers caused additional
    work for directory service. Now that directory service is a 'pay'
    service, this aspect is no longer an issue, even more so as the phone
    providers no longer own the directories.

    >
    > Why should the treatment be different merely because one subscriber is deemed to be commercial and
    > the other residential?


    Because the non-residential customers pay more whereas the residential
    customers in Telecom's case are underpinned by the Kiwi share.
     
    peterwn, Feb 17, 2010
    #14
  15. Lawrence D'Oliveiro

    peterwn Guest

    On Feb 16, 10:33 pm, Lawrence D'Oliveiro <l...@geek-
    central.gen.new_zealand> wrote:

    > > An on target case is:
    > > Feist Publications Inc v. Rural Telephone Service Co 499 US 340
    > > (1991)  which is a USA Supreme Court decision.

    >
    > > The essence was that the mere collection of names, addresses and phone
    > > numbers was not a creative work ...

    >
    > Yeah, I heard about that case. But would it apply in NZ?
    >

    It would be of interest to a NZ judge but the NZ judge is not obliged
    to 'follow' it. A NZ judge would only be obliged to follow a precedent
    of a higher NZ court (including the Privy Council with respect to NZ
    cases). Some classic British cases have been cited by NZ and
    Australian judges over the years (the exam paper case - University of
    London Press Ltd v University Tutorial Press Ltd and the football
    pools case - Ladbroke (Football) Ltd v William Hill (Football) Ltd).
    These were mentioned in the case in question (link added for
    convenience):
    http://www.austlii.edu.au/au/cases/cth/FCA/2010/44.html

    Feist illustrates the point that a mere collection of names and phone
    numbers is not a creative original work, this being a pre-requisite
    for something being copyrightable. This is in general a common
    international criterion for something to be copyright. The trick is
    to convince the judge that some creativity has been injected into the
    directory which the person copying has relied on. In NZ and
    Australia, Feist would sit in the background as an illustration, local
    cases would be more relevant.

    > Another related question is whether TV program schedules are copyrightable
    > or not.


    Similar thing and these points apply:
    1. Is there some originality that has been copied.
    2. Are the programme names (or some of them) copyrightable as such.
    3. There might have been special legislation that protected the
    programme listings of the old NZBC (just like the suggestion of
    legislation to shore up the Yellow Pages monopoly in Australia -
    especially as the Aus Government still owns a chunk of Telstra which
    in turn AFAIK still owns the Yellow Pages there).

    Possibly sabre rattling by the old NZBC and the Listener (then owned
    by NZBC) was sufficient to deter others from publishing without
    consent.

    In this regard note that electoral rolls have special legal
    protection, it is illegal to use them for other than electoral
    purposes (eg Baycorp cannot use it to trace addresses of debtors).
     
    peterwn, Feb 17, 2010
    #15
  16. In message
    <>, peterwn
    wrote:

    > On Feb 16, 10:33 pm, Lawrence D'Oliveiro <l...@geek-
    > central.gen.new_zealand> wrote:
    >
    >> > An on target case is:
    >> > Feist Publications Inc v. Rural Telephone Service Co 499 US 340
    >> > (1991) which is a USA Supreme Court decision.

    >>
    >> > The essence was that the mere collection of names, addresses and phone
    >> > numbers was not a creative work ...

    >>
    >> Yeah, I heard about that case. But would it apply in NZ?
    >>

    > It would be of interest to a NZ judge but the NZ judge is not obliged
    > to 'follow' it.
    >
    > Feist illustrates the point that a mere collection of names and phone
    > numbers is not a creative original work, this being a pre-requisite
    > for something being copyrightable.


    I believe in Europe they introduced an additional “database rightâ€
    specifically to make an end-run around a requirement like this.
     
    Lawrence D'Oliveiro, Feb 17, 2010
    #16
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