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

Kevin Kenny kennykb at acm.org
Sat Jan 23 21:42:38 UTC 2016

On 01/23/2016 01:48 PM, Russ Nelson wrote:
> 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
> courts.
> 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.

This being the Second Circuit, the only higher court in the US
is the US Supreme Court. The Supreme Court case that is on point is
Feist Publications, Inc., v. Rural Telephone Service Co.,
499 U.S. 340 (1991), in which it was found that the mere collection
of names and telephone numbers (and alphabetizing the names)
failed to have the creative spark needed to make the content
subject to copyright.

The Second Circuit distinguished the case at hand from _Feist_
in that converting metes and bounds to a drawn map requires
considerable interpretation, and enough creativity that copyright
can subsist in the GIS work product.

According to the court's reasoning, you still have your freedom of
speech. You're still free to get permission from a landowner, enter
on the land, make your own measurements and draw your own map - so
you're free to share the facts. You're also free to go to the county
courthouse, look up a parcel in the tax rolls, and proclaim the
metes and bounds from the housetops. But the county's GIS files,
says the Second Circuit, remain the property of the county, and so
you are not free to share them nor to create derivative works from them.

This could have happened only in one of the handful of states that
allow copyright to subsist in government works. In most states,
government works, like those of the Federal government, are born
in the public domain.

I quite agree with you that it seems to contradict established law,
and conflict with constitutional principles of both freedome
of speech and open government, but until and unless the Supremes
speak on it again, it's precedent in the Second Circuit.

The law is an ass.

73 de ke9tv/2, Kevin

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