On 10/20/06, Ray Saintonge <saintonge(a)telus.net> wrote:
Paraphrasing is only sometimes a copyvio. Saying that
it _can_ be does
not imply that it is. Many of the marvunapp entries are very short, and
suggest that there may not be much more to say about a particular
character. In such cases the merger principle may be applicable because
the information itself is not copyrightable, and the number of ways that
you can express that information is very limited.
If we only have occasional short short quoted paragraphs that are
properly attributed that comes well within fair use.
Especially when the "nature of the copyright material" is that it
itself is heavily based on other copyrighted materials. Their material
consists of paraphrasing copyrighted material to begin with (summaries
of fictional plots and things like that which are drawing heavily on
creative works published by Marvel comics); our use of them to create
derivative works (when not copying-and-pasting, of course) seems well
within the bounds of "fair use" to me.
One possible source of copyvios is selection, but that
is far more
difficult to establish. If a person is systematically drawing on
marvunapp's material and using that as the basis for what he includes
that could be a copyvio, but a small random selection of material would
I don't think Marvunapp is claiming to have a selection scheme except
for "everything", which means it would not be a copyrightable
selection scheme. If I understand things correctly. In this case it
would be no more of a selection scheme as the phonebook.
In your comments you make no mention of your
marvunapp, and their willingness to find an accomodation. This is
better than assuming that because they have complained there is
necessarily a copyvio. Even if none of our entries are copyvios and
what we do is entirely within the law, they still have a right to exist
in their own particular niche, and we should resist the urge to
overwhelm them with our size, or to otherwise engage in Borg-like behaviour.
Perhaps the best approach here is to just give more attribution (and
links back to them). I am sure they would appreciate that and it might
dissolve the whole dispute. There's no reason not to link to them if
they are the immediate source of the information, even if they are not
the ultimate source of the copyright (it is usually quite helpful in
such cases to distinguish between the two).
That being said, their copyright infringement claims, except in the
case of the direct copy-and-paste, seem spurious to me, and somewhat
ironic. They are claiming that we are infringing upon their creative
material, which is itself largely uncreative. They should hope that
Marvel will not hold them to the same copyright standards that they
hope to try and hold Wikipedia too. People in glass houses shouldn't
throw cease-and-desist orders; when one's "creative content" is
essentially derivative one should not get *too* mad when another makes
derivative products from it (or at least not be surprised).