Does a compilation of info on purchasable yachts deserve copyright protection? 

If it does, what standard governs the infringement question — "substantial similarity" between the compilation and the defendant’s work or "virtual identicality"?

The Eleventh Circuit today affirmed a post-verdict judgment for the yacht info compiler.  The court answered the first question "yes" and the second one with "substantial similarity".  BUC Int’l Corp. v. Int’l Yacht Council Ltd., No. 04-13653 (11th Cir. June 21, 2007).

The decision holds some interest in that it grapples with the lesser protection that compilations often get under U.S. copyright law.  Because a compilation lots of times just assembles data — think of a phone book — it requires less creativity than other works do.  Courts recognize the relative lack of originality by demanding more similarity, in some instances even calling for "identicality".

The court held that the yacht compilation displayed enough creative spark to warrant more protection.  So it rejected the defendant’s argument that the "virtual identicality" test applied.

Barry Barnett

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