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What protection remains for compilations of information, particularly digital databases, since the United States Supreme Court swept away "sweat copyright" in its 1991 Feist decision? "Thin" copyright protection is still available, but it covers only the original contributions (if any) that the compiler brings to the public domain information. Moreover, Feist makes clear that padding the compilation with original added value will not flesh out the skeletal figure beneath: the information, stripped of selection, arrangement, or other copyrightable frills, remains free for the taking.

If copyright is unavailing, contract is appearing more promising, as mass-market, "shrinkwrap" and "click-on" licenses gain acceptance. Indeed, if contractual protection of compiled information persists unpreempted by federal copyright law or policy, it may provide more effective protection than did copyright.


Common Law | Intellectual Property Law | Law


© 1997 University of Cincinnati Law Review. This article has been published in the University of Cincinnati Law Review, Volume 66, Issue 1 and is free to view and download for private research and study only. Not for re-distribution or re-use.