[tz] temporary timezone database home ...

Clive D.W. Feather clive at davros.org
Fri Oct 7 08:24:26 UTC 2011

Robert Elz said:
> All I know of the lawsuit is what jhawk's message indicated - eventually
> I assume we'll find out what trademark or patent that someone believes is
> being infringed (a little hard to believe either, but who knows...)

It's a copyright case. The claim is that the tz database copies Astrolabe's
books and database.

This isn't my jurisdiction (my legal expertise, such as it is, is in
Scottish law), but from what friends tell me, the questions will be:

(1) Is Astrolabe's material copyright? You can't copyright facts, only the
way they are expressed. However, selecting specific facts from the mass
that are out there, organizing them, and presenting them *can* constitute
enough to be copyrightable. There are tests for this - the telephone
directory isn't copyrightable in the USA because there's no authorship
involved: it just lists every single phone number (except unlisted ones).

(2) Did Olsen and Eggert *copy* the material. Unlike patents, it's
perfectly acceptable to independently create the same material or
independently select and organize the same facts, so long as it is

(3) If both of the above are true, is there an exemption from copyright
such as "fair use" (which is a technical term).

Note that the statements in the various files saying they are public domain
does *not* make them so. That might protect someone who copied the files in
good faith, but it wouldn't protect the people who put them together in the
first place.

Clive D.W. Feather          | If you lie to the compiler,
Email: clive at davros.org     | it will get its revenge.
Web: http://www.davros.org  |   - Henry Spencer
Mobile: +44 7973 377646

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