[R] [OT] Is data copyrightable?

Prof Brian Ripley ripley at stats.ox.ac.uk
Sat May 12 21:59:28 CEST 2007

On Sat, 12 May 2007, hadley wickham wrote:

> This is a little bit off-topic, but I was wondering if anyone has any
> informed opinion on whether data (ie. a dataset) is copyrightable?

Yes, informed (we discussed this with legally qualified authorities when 
MASS was first published with software/datasets).

You may note that statistical tables can be copyrighted, and have been, 
and some of those copyrights have been defended.

Generally you cannot coypright numbers (like words), but you can copyright 
their layout if there is seen to be added intellectual content.

MASS/inst/LICENCE says

   Our understanding is that the dataset files MASS/data/*.rda are not

   Files spatial/data/*.dat were generated or digitized by B. D. Ripley: no
   copyright is asserted.

   All other files are copyright (C) 1994-2002  W. N. Venables and
   B. D. Ripley. Those parts which were distributed with the first
   edition are also copyright (C) 1994 Springer-Verlag New York Inc, with
   all rights assigned to W. N. Venables and B. D. Ripley.

(Springer registered the rights with the US coypright authorities, 
although it is moot if _they_ had any intellectual content to assert.)

Brian D. Ripley,                  ripley at stats.ox.ac.uk
Professor of Applied Statistics,  http://www.stats.ox.ac.uk/~ripley/
University of Oxford,             Tel:  +44 1865 272861 (self)
1 South Parks Road,                     +44 1865 272866 (PA)
Oxford OX1 3TG, UK                Fax:  +44 1865 272595

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