Intellectual Property Protection of Fact-based Works

Intellectual Property Protection of Fact-based Works

Copyright and Its Alternatives

Edited by Robert F. Brauneis

The US Supreme Court decision in Feist Publications Inc. v. Rural Telephone Service Co. held that factual matter is not subject to copyright protection because it is not original to the author. The decision dramatically rejected a two-century-old tradition of protecting factual compilations under copyright. The contributors to this book reassess this decision and its implications, approaching the protection of factual matter from a range of perspectives: policy, historical, comparative, empirical and philosophical.

Chapter 10: The Componentization of Information

Kristen Osenga

Subjects: law - academic, intellectual property law


Kristen Osenga* INTRODUCTION Information is ‘the oxygen of the modern age’.1 Despite its importance, or perhaps because of it, conventional wisdom has long been of the view that information wants to, or even needs to, be free. This idea has been extended to encompass not just raw data, but also information products such as databases and software. These products – products whose primary value lies in organizing, providing context, and distributing information content – have often been the subject of debate over whether and to what extent these works should be protected. The tension between information being free and information products being protected is particularly acute in our technological society, where computers and the Internet have made the collection, storage, * Associate Professor, University of Richmond School of Law. For a full discussion of the ideas presented in this chapter, see ‘Information May Want to Be Free, But Information Products Do Not: Protecting and Facilitating Transactions in Information Products’, 30 Cardozo Law Review 101 (2009). I would like to specifically thank Justin Hughes, Tom Cotter, Jay Kesan, Jim Gibson, and Corinna Lain for their thoughtful and detailed comments on this chapter. I am also grateful to the participants at the George Washington/Software and Information Industry Association conference ‘Feist, Facts, and Function: IP Protection for Works Beyond Entertainment’; the Intellectual Property Scholars Conference at DePaul University College of Law; the Intellectual Property & Communications Law and Policy Scholars Roundtable at Michigan State University College of Law; the Southeastern Association of Law Schools annual meeting; and...

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