RE: RE: How Many Trees? (WAS: URGENT: Immediate ethical issue)

Subject: RE: RE: How Many Trees? (WAS: URGENT: Immediate ethical issue)
From: Kim Roper <kim -dot- roper -at- pixelink -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Tue, 6 May 2003 09:55:33 -0400

Stephen Gillespie wrote:

> But to the point I was trying to make (and this for your
> fellow Canuck, Mark
> Barker as well), there's a big diff between my written
> expression of the
> research on 'how many trees' and a hockey game score from reading the
> newspaper box scores. The former information, I OWN - the inherent
> creativity you have referred to is that I did the research, I
> *created* the
> information (vs. getting it second-hand).

However, you are quoting a summary of a summary of the research, and it is
that that is the subject of your statement, not the research itself. Nobody
is disputing the copyright of written materials contributing to the
research. Nobody is disputing the copyright of a comprehensive summary,
which is a much more interesting debate. However, all we have here is
"Stephen Gillespie said '10,380 pine trees.'"

That is, "10,380 pine trees" is hardly an artistic expression. The
statement itself carries not even the barest hint that you didn't just dream
up the number (which, I assume in this case, you did). I see no research,
no creativity, no uniqueness.

Uniqueness is the crux of the issue. To enforce a copyright, you must
demonstrate that it is your unique work. The statement "10,380 pine trees"
expresses none of that. Bear in mind that the onus is on you to present
your case; it is not a case of criminal law where the crown or state will
enforce your rights. In other words, if you feel that you have been
wronged, it is up to you to prove it to a judge. The rest of us are under
an obligation to exercise due diligence in investigating our sources and not
knowingly infringing copyright. (My understanding of relatively recent U.S.
court decisions in intellectual property law is that one cannot simply claim
"I didn't know" or " I must have missed it" to avoid being penalized with
triple damages. (I used to work for a company the provided prior art
research and expert witness testimony in certain kinds of IP cases.) It is
in your own best interest in investigate thoroughly.)

If you want to try to enforce exclusive rights over the phrase "10,380 pine
trees," go right ahead. Nobody (here, anyway) is trying to stop you. It's
a credibility issue more than anything--if you think you can prove that it's
a unique artistic expression worthy of protection, go ahead. In my
neighbourhood, lawyers rarely work on contingency (if ever). They get paid
whether you win or not, so even if you're right, you can go bankrupt. Or
you can represent yourself. The crown or state won't do it for you.

And on another note:
To quote my ex husband, "When I go to the bathroom, I look in the toilet and
say, 'Gee that's interesting,' but it's not art." [Note that I said *ex*,
here.] Just because you created it doesn't mean it's worthy of copyright,
nor does it mean that you can, or should, attempt to enforce copyright.

> BTW, I never been to a monster truck rally - do they have
> some good ones up there?

I'd have to ask around. I'm more likely to be found at the art gallery ...
without my ex, thanks. Do they have good hockey teams where you are?

Cheers ... Kim
kim.roper at


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