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biff


Apr 19, 2004, 5:59 PM
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Copyright and Routes DB
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The issue of who holds the copyright to route information comes up every once in a while around here, but sofar I have been unable to find a thread devoted to the topic.

Do your local climbing association depend on guidebook sales to pay for improvements to your favourite areas? Does this affect your input to the routes database here on rockclimbing.com?

It has been established in court (from my understanding) that route names, and such information is not held in copyright by any individual. But still it doesn't seem ethical to copy route information from a guidbook. When you enter route information to the routes database, do you have first hand expeirance with all the routes you add?

What do you feel is the place of the routes Database here at rockclimbing.com? What about other online topo resources such as supertopo, and dr.topo


robmcc


Apr 19, 2004, 6:09 PM
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I only add things I've personally climbed.

Rob


Partner tim


Apr 19, 2004, 6:26 PM
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In reply to:
The issue of who holds the copyright to route information comes up every once in a while around here, but sofar I have been unable to find a thread devoted to the topic.

Just as an FYI, the intention that Trevor and I discussed most recently (and I forwarded via Adam to the RDB managers) is for rc.com to take a stance on routes submissions similar to that of photos. Specifically, the submitter grants rockclimbing.com permission to use their work for the best interests and promotion of rockclimbing.com and its users, and the submitter retains all other rights (including that of retraction) and responsibilities (including that of infringement and participatory infringement) pursuant to their copyrighted works.

It is relatively easier to discern whether a photo has been plagiarized (they tend to share a certain commonality ;-)) than a route (hmm, I thought Bartlett held the patent on blurry inaccurate topos... but wait, Tony Barnes pioneered institutionalized sandbagging... let's duke it out in court!). Nonetheless, it is insane for a small time operation like rc.com to take on the responsibility for contributors' behavior. In addition, we thought it would make sense to add a Google-Groups-like "personal use only" clause so that our users are not simply doing the legwork for someone else's guidebook or website. Anyone who has ever been involved with direct-mail operations already knows how the verification step of this process works :-D.


In reply to:
Do your local climbing association depend on guidebook sales to pay for improvements to your favourite areas? Does this affect your input to the routes database here on rockclimbing.com?

I'll bet the structure and disorganization of the RDB is a much bigger factor than that. If it turns out that a role for local organizations partnering with the site would help us both out, you'll not hear any complaints from me, and every time I've talked about this with Trevor, he has said pretty much the same thing -- as long as it's a 2-way street, we'd be delighted to help promote local advocacy groups.

Eric and I will be working (a LOT) on the structural and usability aspects of the routes database over the summer, and hopefully will be merging in support for first ascent registers, user-annotated photo-topos (cf. Kirk Woerner's old StoneSeeker site), and the like. I am too busy with classwork, and Eric with bug fixes, to commit to it before early May; but all of us would like to see this fixed. The routes database code is a disgrace; I get frustrated every time I go in there. The routes database itself is not bad, but that is a reflection primarily of the dedication that many area managers put into it, rather than anything we've done...

In reply to:
It has been established in court (from my understanding) that route names, and such information is not held in copyright by any individual.

We need a legal precedent, cited, to base this upon. If you have one handy, or can find one, that would be immeasurably useful!

In reply to:
But still it doesn't seem ethical to copy route information from a guidbook. When you enter route information to the routes database, do you have first hand expeirance with all the routes you add?

Yes. Always. Stealing from others is fundamentally dishonest and tends to perpetuate bogosity (cf. other guidebook authors parroting Secor's bad beta on Charlotte Dome... you know, I should add a photo-topo for that exact route, god damn it! Another one where I know first-hand where it goes, from bitter experience).

In reply to:
What do you feel is the place of the routes Database here at rockclimbing.com? What about other online topo resources such as supertopo, and dr.topo

Supertopo is a professionally edited, professionally promoted collection of Southwest-centered guidebooks to popular areas. I believe they are scale-limited by their staff. Our users' submissions are of variable quality, but properly managed, they plug a gap between SuperTopo (an occasional advertiser on this site) and DrTopo (whose interface, thankfully, is now even worse than ours -- thanks guys!). For example, check out the detailed Needles beta from Supertopo and DrTopo. While you're there, grab me some maps for Little Falls, NY, and Frey, Argentina.

What's that? There isn't any? Oh, right. I forgot. That is when the much-maligned rockclimbing.com routes database comes in handy. I sandbagged the other guys (brutally) by citing some of the particularly hard-to-find information I personally have added, but it is representative. If we succeed in fixing the structure of the routesdb and better supporting photographic topos (eg. 'click on the belays for this route in your browser on this photo'), I think we will be alright. But that's just my opinion.

We are going to have to be more methodical about access issues as the rdb matures; the SCC really opened our eyes in that respect. But there is a lot of potential slowly being realized. Better visibility and support for local grassroots organizations is one positive goal. Filling a niche left by out-of-print guidebooks or inaccurate beta is another. Regardless of the usual cries to 'get rid of the routesdb' (which of course will delight everyone who has helped build it) or 'hire better developers' (with the vast sums of money that roll in each month), I actually am much more hopeful that the RDB will grow into its role than I was a year ago.


escale


Apr 19, 2004, 6:48 PM
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Yes, I don’t think biff and I are talking about stealing the work of others. I agree that is illegal and I am suggesting right now that people shouldn’t do it. We all agree on this point, Ok!?

As I understand, the mountains are public property, the hangers and fixed gear are public property, the route names and the names of the first accent team is public property, but isn’t that it. If I want to go and take all the photos I want and draw my own topos to contribute to the climbing community can I not do so and not infringe on the rights of others. If I try to copy a Van Gogh but admit it is a bad copy of a Van Gogh as long as I created it, the copyright of my bad copy is still mine, right? Now pushing it off as an original would be forgery and illegal. I think you can buy maps from any one of several mapmaking companies because the information is basically public. For example the names of towns, the numbers assigned on the highways, and the exit ramp numbers are on all the maps, just that each has a way of coloring, presenting and folding their map whether in plain paper, waterproofed, plactic coated, folded in accordion fashion or on a map pay site.

If I am creative enough then I think my work becomes my property, and if I want to give my work away for others to use then that is my right. Any you all should be slamming all those guys with a photocopier that are coping other peoples work just to get a few more “points” under their name.

On the other side of the coin, if someone copied my work and published it, they would have a court battle on their hands, but Biff and I just want to get more climbing information to the community and do so in a legal fashion. I guess it is up to you guys to police the matter, I just want to help but I feel my hands are tied.

---Escale


Partner tim


Apr 19, 2004, 7:13 PM
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In reply to:
If I want to go and take all the photos I want and draw my own topos to contribute to the climbing community can I not do so and not infringe on the rights of others.

AFAIK, yes, that's kind of the point of copyright law (to promote original works)


In reply to:
If I try to copy a Van Gogh but admit it is a bad copy of a Van Gogh as long as I created it, the copyright of my bad copy is still mine, right? Now pushing it off as an original would be forgery and illegal. I think you can buy maps from any one of several mapmaking companies because the information is basically public. For example the names of towns, the numbers assigned on the highways, and the exit ramp numbers are on all the maps, just that each has a way of coloring, presenting and folding their map whether in plain paper, waterproofed, plactic coated, folded in accordion fashion or on a map pay site.

Careful there. I think this is where it gets hairy -- the mapmakers do the same thing as the direct mail folks do, periodically including a known-bad 'ringer' so that they can bring a court challenge if someone attempts to pass their work off as their own. Where the line between original and derivative is drawn, however, I do not know. You (and I) would have to find a lawyer (and pay them, most likely) to get a definitive answer.

In reply to:
If I am creative enough then I think my work becomes my property, and if I want to give my work away for others to use then that is my right.

Sure, but it's the right of the site to refuse or accept it. We have to keep an eye on what's best for all parties concerned over the long term. I'm not sure what it is you object to at this point; perhaps I overlooked something in Biff's post or yours?

In reply to:
Any you all should be slamming all those guys with a photocopier that are coping other peoples work just to get a few more “points” under their name... Biff and I just want to get more climbing information to the community and do so in a legal fashion. I guess it is up to you guys to police the matter, I just want to help but I feel my hands are tied.

Please explain. I add the routes that I do, and the photos that I do, because I feel like it. What is it that you perceive as an obstacle to your participation? If possible, I will remove that obstacle.


andypro


Apr 19, 2004, 7:29 PM
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I didn't read all the long posts, but wanted to add this...

I copied most of the route info for what I've added from the escarpment guidebook, with little bits of info not in the guidebook wehre I felt necessary. I have climbed 98% of the routes I put in (ok..maybe 96%..I dont remember how many I added) so I do ahve first hand knowledge, just cant recall all the detials because these routes ahve been climbed over a decade.

The reason I did it to begin with is because (and no offense to the origional route adder) it was all kindsa screwed up, disorganized, and occasionally (I think only one isntance) incorrect. So..instead of jsut fixing what was there, I added the entire kelso and fraggle area, properly divided up into sections as it should be, so on and so forth. I did, however, have every intention of going through everyhting this seasona dn making notes to bring back wiht me and put more detailed and up to date descriptions (which I will begin once it fu$&ing dries out!).


roughster


Apr 19, 2004, 8:10 PM
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The big issue I see is with people entering beta is for "newer" areas. For example, I put up routes at primarily areas that I find, develop, build trails for, work out access, spend a lot of $$, time, and effort developing routes. Being a nice guy, I also draft up topos as I go and distribute them to people and/or give them 1st hand beta.

Now how do you think it feels to log onto any website (not just saying this one) and see that beta verbatum directly from the topo I gave to them in the 1st place now presented as their own?

Is it a copyright issue, or is it a respect issue? Of course eventually when things progress to a point I will put out a guidebook on the area(s), but that doesn't give me the warm fuzzy when people that I give the beta to for their own use then take it and either present it in a manner which implies it is "their" work, or distribute/host those topos online despite being asked not to.

The above is much different than say if the devloper doesn't want to make a guidebook due to the effort, in which case someone stepping up to do so is a service IMO. However when the issues about a guide revolves around access and or from a standpoint that the area is still being developed and has little selection of routes to offer until more are added, it is of my opinion that the information should not be included until the developers give the ok.

People not following that mentallity is leading me personally and other developers that I know to be much more reticent in giving out info on new/developing areas for that very reason. And believe me, I have delt with this issue so many times over the last few years that I really am beginning to wonder if people have any respect for others hard work at all.

I love the route database here on RC.com, I just hope people think about what they are doing before they add stuff.


bobd1953


Apr 19, 2004, 8:19 PM
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In reply to:
Yes, I don’t think biff and I are talking about stealing the work of others. I agree that is illegal and I am suggesting right now that people shouldn’t do it. We all agree on this point, Ok!?

So go look in the data-base for Penitente Canyon. The routes were taken right out of my guidebook which is protected by copyright laws.


bobd1953


Apr 19, 2004, 8:31 PM
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In reply to:
And believe me, I have delt with this issue so many times over the last few years that I really am beginning to wonder if people have any respect for others hard work at all.

I can anwser that for you, NO! Climbers will copy, steal and purge any information that they can get their hands-on. Quite pathetic!
I written other guidebooks (7 mountain-bike and 3 three hiking) and can say it is much less a problem with those user-groups.


josephine


Apr 19, 2004, 11:38 PM
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In reply to:
In reply to:
Yes, I don’t think biff and I are talking about stealing the work of others. I agree that is illegal and I am suggesting right now that people shouldn’t do it. We all agree on this point, Ok!?

So go look in the data-base for Penitente Canyon. The routes were taken right out of my guidebook which is protected by copyright laws.

Did you send a pm to the user that submited that info??


hardmanknott


Apr 20, 2004, 12:05 AM
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In reply to:
The issue of who holds the copyright to route information comes up every once in a while around here, but sofar I have been unable to find a thread devoted to the topic.


I posted THIS a month ago after I noticed that
someone had copied word-for-word from a local Guidebook.
It was pretty obvious the person knew nothing of the routes.

BTW, why isn't HTML working here?
-----------------------------------------------------
THIS
-----------------------------------------------------

Is there a way to use BB code instead of what I tried above?

EDIT: Added bb code to above link. Thanks tim!

Hardman Knott


Partner rrrADAM


Apr 20, 2004, 9:19 AM
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Name, grade, and pro is not copyrighted info, but is public knowledge.

The author's route description is copyrighted, as well as any "star type system" to rate the worth of the climb, and should NOT be duplicated. If any one sees a copied description, please contact you state's MGR to have it deleted.


Partner tim


Apr 20, 2004, 9:27 AM
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In reply to:
Name, grade, and pro is not copyrighted info, but is public knowledge.

The author's route description is copyrighted, as well as any "star type system" to rate the worth of the climb, and should NOT be duplicated. If any one sees a copied description, please contact you state's MGR to have it deleted.

Do you have a precedent for this, or can Mike opine as to the legal correctness of your opinions? I don't mean to be rude, but Adam, you're not an attorney, and it would be pretty dumb to rely on you for legal advice as such.


Partner tim


Apr 20, 2004, 9:28 AM
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In reply to:
BTW, why isn't HTML working here?
-----------------------------------------------------
THIS
-----------------------------------------------------

Is there a way to use BB code instead of what I tried above?

Hardman Knott

Try

Code
[url=http://foo.bar.com/]text to display

.


Partner tim


Apr 20, 2004, 9:39 AM
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In reply to:
The author's route description is copyrighted, as well as any "star type system" to rate the worth of the climb, and should NOT be duplicated. If any one sees a copied description, please contact you state's MGR to have it deleted.

Hey Adam, would you be so kind as to delete all of the 'starred' routes in the Joshua Tree section? Unless fredbob has agreed for us to use them, of course. I remember you asserting at some point that the star rating of a route was an integral part of its description -- has your opinion on the matter changed?

(Diaper Full of Load, 5.13a (***) and so forth.)


Partner rrrADAM


Apr 20, 2004, 9:53 AM
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You remember wrong Tim, I never said the star rating was an integral part of the name. Please show me where I "asserted this".

It would be better and more efficient if you just went into the DB and wrote a quick script to remove the stars from route names, as you can do this in one fell swoop, and still leave the rest of the info intact. You may want to code a crystal ball into it though also, sio you don't remove stars that users felt desrved to be on a climb though. :roll:


And I have talked to someone (attorney type) about this over a year before you came to the site, as I was the RDB Administrator at that time, and was agressively trying to get users to fill info in. How can you think that Route Names, Grades, and Protection are not public knowledge ??? Do you think the FA who name dthe route has ownership of that name, and should get a royalty every time it is printed ??? :?


brianinslc


Apr 20, 2004, 10:06 AM
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In reply to:
And I have talked to someone (attorney type) about this over a year before you came to the site, as I was the RDB Administrator at that time, and was agressively trying to get users to fill info in. How can you think that Route Names, Grades, and Protection are not public knowledge ??? Do you think the FA who name dthe route has ownership of that name, and should get a royalty every time it is printed ??? :?

Ask Olevsky that question...

Theft of intellectual property? Pending suit against Falcon? Or, ask Chris Mac about it.

Kinda of an interesting slant...

Brian in SLC


alpnclmbr1


Apr 20, 2004, 10:12 AM
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Route Names, Grades, and Protection are all fact based information. As I understand it you cannot copyright facts.


escale


Apr 20, 2004, 10:28 AM
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I am quite sure rrrAdam is right, but I also believe that the names of the first ascenders are public property as well. Not that that really matters except for the history books. I have a friend who writes climbing guides and publishes them and he has told me exactly what rrrAdam has said, that name, grade, and pro is not copyrighted. If someone is plagerizing description, “recommended star rating system”, original photographs, it should be removed.

Tim wrote:
In reply to:
Where the line between original and derivative is drawn, however, I do not know. You (and I) would have to find a lawyer (and pay them, most likely) to get a definitive answer.

Yes, I agree, it probably would take several copywrite lawyers to really nail a difference and there is a lot of gray areas there. Software copyright is easier because the source can be easily hidden and only complied apps are releasesd. Music copyright is quite well defined but wannabees release copied versions in blackmarket sources and don’t pay royalties. Look at the recent Napster and WinMX rulings concerning MP3 formated songs and the Internet. I agree, that the managers of the this or any website has the right to refuse or accept material that is submitted to them they are looking out to protect themselves keep the site going and I really do believe we will find a way through this “gray” areas.

Escale wrote:
In reply to:
Any you all should be slamming all those guys with a photocopier that are coping other peoples work just to get a few more “points” under their name.

Sorry, I meant: We, all, or any of us, should be reporting plagiarizers to the state managers as we see it occur in the route dB.

What was fustrating me is that I was trying to get a few edited topos on the route dB and with that low, 42k limitation, you couldn’t see anything. I’ve read that the category “topos” has been added and can be a file up to 98K. I have submitted one already and it is now pending in the rc.com dB under Big Block.

http://www.rockclimbing.com/routes/listArea.php?AreaID=6530

It might be approved by now. I took the photo, created the composite from two pics, edited in the red route lines that terminate at the chains. I didn’t include the names of the route setters, because I don’t know who put them in. I don’t know the first acenders names. So far, no one I’ve met knows. I don’t like to give beta for the climb because I think people should have the ability to call this route their first onsite flash and that is part of the game.

There isn’t a guide published, but this is mostly a bouldering area and there are only 6 routes here. Hardly worth developing a published guide for. So, I am trying to get it on the route dB because it is only 6 miles from the Interstate for anyone who is traveling through Albuquerque and has a stop over. Throw down camping is allowed, but I need to make a map so someone can find the forest roads that lead to cleared areas. USFS has a ban on placing any more bolts.

--- Escale.


Partner tim


Apr 20, 2004, 10:38 AM
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How can you think that Route Names, Grades, and Protection are not public knowledge ??? Do you think the FA who name dthe route has ownership of that name, and should get a royalty every time it is printed ??? :?

Do you believe that logic rules this country, or people and money?

After living in DC for 18 years, I can tell you what I think about that... but my opinion about an author's specific rights and the delineation of them is worth about point shit over infinity.

Neither your opinion nor mine is likely to be considered enough to base a legal foundation upon, and if we ever want to offer quality print versions of routesdb-guidebooks to areas that are underserved (cf. Escale's post), we really do need to address this issue. What I think is that we should seek legal counsel and see what they say about the matter.

I wouldn't ask you to write code for analyzing DNA sequences, you wouldn't ask me to inspect bolts for you, and I don't think either of us should be pretending that we fully understand the intricacies of copyright law as it pertains to this situation. Furthermore, the laws regarding copyright and databases of gathered information seem to change about once a month -- even if you previously obtained counsel on this matter, it would not hurt to check up on the matter in light of recent court cases. (Lessig et al.)


andy_lemon


Apr 20, 2004, 10:44 AM
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Name, grade, and pro is not copyrighted info, but is public knowledge.

Let me first appologize for not having the time to read through all the posts... Name and Grade are public domain. I can find a legal proceeding at which a similiar case was decided (for Tim) if one has not been mentioned. Protection is not public domain. Protection can vary from individual to individual and therefore no one answer is definate. Also, on sport routes protection can change from time to time (with the addition or removal of bolts & hangers).

I'll be back.
Andy


Partner tim


Apr 20, 2004, 10:53 AM
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You remember wrong Tim, I never said the star rating was an integral part of the name. Please show me where I "asserted this".

Personal conversation, Joshua Tree, regarding stars on ratings. It is not on the site, as far as I know.

In reply to:
It would be better and more efficient if you just went into the DB and wrote a quick script to remove the stars from route names, as you can do this in one fell swoop, and still leave the rest of the info intact. You may want to code a crystal ball into it though also, sio you don't remove stars that users felt desrved to be on a climb though. :roll:

So, you feel that we have no obligation to live up to the standards you have set out? (Not an ethically tenable position for someone who gets miffed about people linking directly to photos. I'm mostly busting your chops here, but there is some substance to all this...)

If the star-ratings and such are copyrighted (I have my doubts as to the enforceability of this, but, whatever), the routesdb is riddled with copyright violations. Do you not consider this to be an issue?

It is not a particularly wise idea for the site to blithely ignore cases of contributory infringement, which is what that sounds like. Of course, I am not an attorney and neither are you, so maybe we can find someone (*cough* Mike *cough*) who knows better and put this to rest.


escale


Apr 20, 2004, 11:07 AM
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People who do the route development do a lot and there will be many other people who if given the chance will thank you. I feel your pain when you give out your work and then it appears somewhere else. Maybe you should give it to those people with the underlying agreement that you are working on a guide and please keep it confidential until you are ready to publish. If they are nice people, they should respect that. For people that are not nice, I would just say, “well, take the XYZ exit, go 8 miles, park, go into the canyon 200 yards and look left you will see bolts and chains, good luck.” I would not give them rough drafts of your work, but maybe a general idea how to find it.

I’ve contributed time and $ to sport route development and after working a summer in a new area, and helping my friend get his little guide out, someone went out there and chopped the bolts, because they needed the hangers for an area they were working on. That was totally whacked. Needless to say, his name is passed at every campfire and everyone spits on the ground when his name is mentioned. He has since apologized but my friend and I became so depressed we that we will not try such a large project again, and now I do more trad routes and he spends a lot of time in the gym. The bolts on the best routes have been replaced, and now there is a ban on bolting, so we stopped.

But, we did it so that other climbers could enjoy the area. I travel around and climb routes in different states, although I am not currently developing any new sport areas, I am trying to document local areas that have no guide books for visitors. I am now training to do some exploring in new trad areas.

We even have some obscure 5.15 bolted sports climbs. These are climbs someone bolted, but no one can possible do. What was that bolter thinking? One should work it out on TR first, not just start bolting for bolting sake. We put the 5.15 label on them because no one can do the route or it goes nowhere.

I am not sure how to handle the politics, and copyright of areas being developed. All the people who worked in our area were a close bunch of guys and just a few of us contributed $. Others help with cleaning and other aspects. So, we didn’t release our “guide” until we thought we got a lot of it done, but it still has areas to be developed if we ever get the bolt restrictions lifted. I guess when that bolt thing went into effect, we starting working more on the guide. But how and when do you finally “decide” when to release info to the general public?

If I build a bench in a public park, I am contributing it to the welfare of anyone who wants to sit on it. Communities tax to build park bench seats and they become public. I wish we could get public money to build routes, but that will not likely happen, so people donate time, money, effort all tirelessly for the community. My point is that after an area has been developed with the expection of the ribbon cutting ceremony, the developer should be ready to release it with no strings attached. Why would he be doing it otherwise? To own the route? Lease the land from the government to charge people to climb there? ( which is how ski resorts work), I believe it is good karma and courtesy to respect the name, grade, and the bolts, but as public property. It would also be good to thanks the developers but they are really just philanthropists. Now those people who document and publish a work describing this art form, well, they have rights as well. But someone who paints a picture of the Grand Canyon and describes it doesn’t own the copyright to all paintings and descriptions depicting the Grand Canyon.

---Escale


Partner rrrADAM


Apr 20, 2004, 11:19 AM
Post #24 of 49 (3932 views)
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Again Tim, you remember wrong, or maybe you are simply mistaken and misundertood what I said regarding stars... I don't tend to use the star system when I put routes in the RDB, I right why it is a classic in the description text.

As for Pro... I only use the number of bolts if I know, this is public knowledge to anyone hwo counts them therefore not copyritable, and for Trad I say "up to..." as in up to 3"... I also doubt the size of the cracks are copyritable. :wink:


andy_lemon


Apr 20, 2004, 11:47 AM
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In reply to:
1991: Feist Publications v. Rural Telephone Service Co., Inc.

The U.S. Supreme Court found that the U.S. Constitution requires that, for a work to receive copyright protection, it must reflect creative expression or originality. Thus, the compilation of a telephone directory by Feist was not an infringement even though it was compiled from the information in the Rural Telephone Service White Pages. The information in the white pages was not copyrightable because it comprised "comprehensive collections of facts arranged in conventional formats."

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