[Talk-us] Fwd: State Park Boundary shp file

Russ Nelson nelson at crynwr.com
Sat Jan 23 18:48:51 UTC 2016

Kevin Kenny writes:
 > Other localities see GIS as a profit center. In New York, at least, this 
 > is perfectly lawful. The Court of Appeals of the Second Circuit said so. 
 > (There's a circuit split on the issue, if memory serves.)
 > https://www.rcfp.org/browse-media-law-resources/news/court-rules-copyright-maps-does-not-offend-open-records-law

You cannot copyright a fact about the world in the United States. You
can copyright creative choices that you've made in the arrangement or
presentation of the facts, but you cannot copyright the fact
itself. You can copyright commentary about the facts, but you cannot
copyright the fact itself. If an object in the world is red, you can
call it ugly and claim a copyright on that, but you cannot claim a
copyright in its redness. You can copyright a creative subset of
facts, but you cannot copyright the totality of facts.

New York courts are free to rule any way they want, but copyright
doesn't allow you to own facts. This is well-adjudicated in higher

If you could claim a copyright on facts, you could control people's
speech, and the First Amendment does not allow that. The freedom of
factual information is very strongly protected in the US. No matter
what Suffolk County thinks.

--my blog is at    http://blog.russnelson.com
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