[Talk-us] USA Rail: Calling all OSM railfans! (especially in California)

Russ Nelson nelson at crynwr.com
Fri Apr 3 04:58:31 UTC 2015

Simon Poole writes:
 > Am 02.04.2015 um 05:20 schrieb Russ Nelson:
 > > Maps with insufficient creative content to be
 > > copyrightable.
 > They may exist, but are you seriously saying that we (as in individual
 > mappers and the OSM community as a whole) should make that determination?

No, that would be up to a judge, and if you're talking to a judge,
you're already losing even if you're winning. No, my point was to make
the caution less absolute.

 > > There are maps which are canonical sources of facts about the world,
 > > such as a BNSF map naming subdivisions. No one can own a fact about
 > > the world, because it's a fact. Just like you can't patent math. Same
 > > idea. You can copyright a collection of facts. You can copyright the
 > > arrangement of facts. You can copy the presentation of facts. But you
 > > can't copyright the individual facts.
 > >
 > While is true that you can't own a fact in isolation, the problem is
 > they are rarely presented in that form.

I'll bet if you called up the railroad's public relations office and
said "What do you call the line between towns X and Y?", they would be
happy to tell you. There seems to be a certain amount of anal
retentiveness around copyright, as if it is absolute protection
without restriction.

 > What you seem to be saying in your above statement, followed by stevea's
 > battle call to actually do so,  that wholesale extraction of facts from
 > any source is unproblematic

I'm sorry if you think I said that. A typical railroad system map will
name two, three, ten or twenty lines. Said line names will be
uncreative and derivative (e.g. the line that runs through my town
goes up to the St. Lawrence River and is called the St. Lawrence

Now, copying railroad logos to use as shields?? Absolutely not. Belt
and suspender lawyers will have advised their railroad customers to
claim their logos as both copyrighted works AND trademarks. Some
railroads are well-known to object to (say) their logo appearing on a
model railroad car. You could use the trademark without pause as a
shield, but I wouldn't advise using the logo on a shield without

Balance is needed, and I saw absolutely no balance in the posting I
was replying to.

 > BTW you live in the country of software patents which -is-
 > essentially patenting math.

BTW, you can't patent math. Seriously. Precedents out the wazoo.

--my blog is at    http://blog.russnelson.com
Crynwr supports open source software
521 Pleasant Valley Rd. | +1 315-600-8815
Potsdam, NY 13676-3213  |     Sheepdog       

More information about the Talk-us mailing list