Blcjr, I agree. From the link I posted above, here's part of the decision rejecting copyrightablity. "The product numbers are not original because each number is rigidly dictated by the rules of the Southco system." The article goes on to say, "once the system is in place products can be numbered without the slightest element of creativity. Indeed if any creativity were allowed to creep into the numbering process, the system would be defeated."
Hmmm... does that remind me of any other numbering system? We all know how the scott numbering system works. Do they ever get creative (intentionally) and put an airmail with a revenue because they have a similar design? Or maybe give a more valuable stamp a nice round number? :)
At its simplest, the copyright laws are supposed to prevent and protect against anyone who is not Scott (Amos) from putting together a stamp catalogue listing that copies (uses the exact same) Scott numbers (numbering listing system) to compete against it.
At least in the US, the Constitution and Congress have not struck the simple balance that jogil hopes for. Instead, the Constitution only grants Congress the power to give "authors" the exclusive right to control their "writings" for a limited time, and in exercising this power and delegating and the US Copyright Office--or by not reversing various court decisions--Congress has determined that not all human activity is sufficient to qualify as authorship. Like assigning numbers to things, or compiling data about things. In the case of those, Congress has judged that commercial competition and freedom of expression outweigh whatever work the originator contributed. Different minds can disagree with that choice, but it's what we have.
With all that's been discussed... the (unknown factor) at this stage, is to whether 1847 voluntarily pulled their own site into temporary dormancy, or if their webhost was threatened by Amos...
Personally, if it was the former (and not the latter), I would be very happy to sub-host 1847 on my website, and I assure you it would take a threat to my webhost to pull it down, as I would personally never *ever* back down to Amos...
Has anyone been in contact with the site owner to find out what is going on? There is a lot of speculation going on, and it could be as simple as not paying the hosting bill, whether voluntarily or involuntarily.
It's possible the owner still owns the domain name, but cancelled their hosting plan or maybe no longer had a valid credit card on file for monthly billing. Bill was going to look into it, but likely hasn't heard back yet.
I still find the big picture very interesting. I think it would be a great benefit to the stamp collecting community to have Scott's numbers available for all to use with no threats of lawsuits, regardless of whether that's the case in this instance.
Our firm is general counsel to Amos Press Inc., dba Scott Publishing Co., Sidney, Ohio, USA. Scott Publishing Co. is the publisher of the Scott Catalogues and other Scott products.
I have recently been provided with e-mail correspondence from you offering a free trial version of Phildex that includes cross reference software including Scott numbers.
Scott Publishing Co. is the owner of federally registered copyrights on its stamp numbering system and the contents of the Scott Catalogues. Use of the Scott Numbering System without a written license agreement from Scott Publishing Co. is not permitted. The Scott Numbering System cannot be used or reproduced without the consent of our client.
We must insist that you immediately cease and desist from any further use of the Scott Catalogue Numbers as well as further distribution of any publications, software, or on-line services containing the Scott numbers. In order to avoid further action relative to this matter, I must receive from you no later than January 25, 2002 written confirmation of your acknowledgement of the copyright of the Scott Numbering System as well as your agreement to cease and desist from future, unauthorized use of the numbers.
You should be aware of the fact that Scott Publishing Co. will take all steps necessary in order to insure the continued enforcement of its copyright protection.
I trust this matter will receive your immediate attention and look forward to your prompt response.
Very truly yours,
John M. Garmhausen
nas cc: Scott Publishing Co. (via e-mail) G:\Amos P\Scott P\Ltr\Babin
So what became of that "take down" request? Lawyers do this all the time, even when they don't have a legal case to stand on. In this case, the letter is bluster. Scott does not have "federally registered copyrights on its stamp numbering system." It does have copyrights on its catalogs, so the remainder of the sentence turned a lie into a half truth. Scott has trademarks on the expression "Scott's Number" but not a copyright on the numbers themselves. Only when the number is "reprinted from a copyrighted publication of Amos Press, Inc" does copyright come into play. Look at anybody who has "licensed" their use of Scott numbers and that's the language you will see. Because that is all Scott can legally enforce.
If I were the recipient of the letter, I'd reply with something like:
Quote: Our reference to your numbers does not violate your copyrights because we have not reprinted them from any copyrighted publication of Amos Press, Inc. in any way that would constitute anything more than fair use of the numbers. If you think otherwise, please identify the catalog you claim that we have reprinted from. However, if it will make you happy, we will be happy to include the following language in any material we publish containing your numbers:
"The marks "Scott" and "Scott's" are Registered in the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, and are trademarks of Amos Press, Inc. dba Scott Publishing Co. No use may be made of these marks or of material in this publication, which is reprinted from a copyrighted publication of Amos Press, Inc., without the express written permission of Amos Press, Inc., dba Scott Publishing Co., Sidney, Ohio 45365."
But it would then become a game of who blinks first, I suppose.
Quote: Their bill is not at issue... the WHOIS lookup shows them as up to date and still in ownership..
I'm not talking about the bill for domain renewal, I'm talking about the monthly or annual hosting bill. The two are usually (but but not always) separate.
The domain registration fee is paid to the registrar (Go Daddy, Namecheap, Network Solutions, etc.) for ICANN registration of domain name ownership, whereas the hosting fee goes to whomever owns or leases the physical server where the website resides.
While some hosts include domain registration as part of their package, that is usually a BAD idea, as depending on their terms and conditions, THEY can actually own the domain name rather than you. You want to make sure that you own the domain name.
In this case, the domain registration appears to not be at issue, but payment for hosting could very well be.
This site will be sorely missed, and I'll just have to get used to it. With all this chatting about the possible legal side of this issue, has anyone found out that legalities are the real problem? I'm still trying to have some faith in Amos publishing. They are supposed to be helping stamp collecting, not hurting it. If they are so high handed as to jump on 1847usa for copyright problems, Amos should just take over the site and make it theirs. Of course we'd have to swipe our credit cards every time we wanted to use it.
I'm sorry this post is going to be lengthy, but the Clayton article is very instructive and communicates something very different than what some of you are taking away from it. Remember to compare apples to apples in deriving your lessons from it.
The decision of the 7th Circuit Court
Thank you for the link to the article by Mr. Clayton. It gave me the kind of legal precedent data that I need for thinking this through. After reading about the court decisions in the first two cases, I was ready to throw up my hands and throw in the towel since it appeared that those courts could not see the creativity in a well constructed taxonomy. But that was due to the compare and contrast approach Clayton was using for his article. The other shoe came down with his next case study:
Clayton's third case study describes a system that is much closer to the catalog system Scott has developed, and the outcome of the litigation was much different than the first two cases. Some taxonomic systems ARE copyrightable:
Quote: The 7th Circuit, in American Dental Association v. Delta Dental Plans Assoc., 126 F.3d 977 (7th Cir. 1997), upheld copyright protection for a taxonomy that classified dental procedures into groups, assigning each procedure a number as well as a description. The taxonomy qualified as original because of the many choices that had been made in picking particular numbers and grouping procedures. These "choices [are] original to the author of a taxonomy, and another author could do things differently." Id. at 979.
Some of you seem to have rather incomplete notions about what a true "catalog" is. Those who regard it as a glorified price list really miss the point in some rather fundamental ways. Pricing is the lesser part of what the Scott Specialized catalog does. Bear in mind that in order for something to qualify as a true catalog it does not have to have pricing at all. A reference catalog for anything is a taxonomic system. It classifies and arranges objects (entries) according to any number of criteria, grouping them according to a select set of characteristics, and then rostering them in an encoded set of entries, usually as the combination of a number and a description. But these numbers are seldom simple strings of integers arranged consecutively. In the case of the US Specialized catalog, they are alphanumeric strings that allow the encoded "number" to contain descriptive information based on its form. That is not a haphazard accumulation. It follows a logical design. Although the idea of the design cannot be copyrighted, the manner of its execution can, as the decision of the 7th circuit court affirms. But the particular purpose of the system, and the nature of its numbers, can be constructed so as to preclude copyright protection, as the first two cases Clayton presents demonstrate.
The Scott Specialized as a taxonomic system
Let us consider the Scott Specialized Catalog of United States Stamps and Covers by looking at the nature of its entries. Does the sequence 28, 28b, 28A, 29 appear to be a logical and natural order, or does it represent something more than simple consecution? Does the ORDER of the numbers convey specific information about the entities listed? Is it intentional and purposeful, implying a design, or it is merely accidental?
Consider this table we find among the entries:
formerly currently 55----------63-E11e 56----------65-E15h 57----------67-E9e 58----------62B
Of itself, without knowing specifically what objects it references within the catalog, we observe that the items that used to be cataloged as simple entries have been reclassified as different kinds of entries, except in one case. And when we "parse" an entry such as 63-E11h we discover that the item fits an entirely different taxonomic category from its original listing; information that was already evident just from a comparison of one number to another. Moreover, we will discover that there is a logical order to the formation of these numbers which encode data according to the pattern of the classification system of the taxonomy. So, for example:
O3TCa O3P1 O3P2 O3P2a O3P3 O3P4
All these refer to items of different classes and forms but who all share a common face design. If you know the structure of the coding system, then you know that one is a trial color, one is a large die proof, one is a small die proof from a Roosevelt album, one is a small die proof from the Panama-Pacific exposition, one is a plate proof on India paper, and one is a plate proof on cardboard. That is a lot of information encoded into a string of numbers. And if you could know what an O3 is you could even tell what these things look like. The choice of number is not arbitrary, it is by design, and that design was created by an author and anyone else could come up with their own alternative way of doing the same thing.
Basis for Legal protection for taxonomic systems
If I blurted out the statement, "All the world's a stage." and then I snapped my fingers and said, "Ha, I just came up with that" would you believe me? Of course not. That sequence of words is not arbitrary. It (the sequence) has an author, and that sequence is well known as is its real author. If it had recently been created and was still subject to copyright, then my claim would constitute an infringement upon the author's right to protection under the law for his intellectual property.
Because the Scott numbering system is neither haphazard nor naturally occurring it is the product of intentional design. And just as the ordering of common words in an ordered sequence as a literary work is eligible for copyright protection as a work of art, so a catalog of numbered entries arranged according to a precise and ordered taxonomy is eligible for the same protection. And that was the finding of the 7th circuit court in the case of American Dental Association v. Delta Dental Plans Assoc. in 1997.
[added:] Something many of you are overlooking in comparing the first two case studies Clayton cites is that the Scott Specialized is not merely listing items owned and sold by Scott as those two companies were. Scott is intentionally creating a record of all material known to exist, even though it is neither owned nor sold by the catalog producer. As such it is intended to be a reference work for an industry (philately) and not merely a product identifier for a company. So the conditions in those first two cases, and the limitations of their numbering systems, ought not be applied to the Scott schema.
I sympathize Stampcrow, but the law stipulates that when a copyright holder refrains from legally pursuing against infringement, then the exclusive protection against infringement in copyright is compromised and that protection may be forfeit. The reason is because that kind of leniency provides a basis for usage claims by others. More than one copyright holder has learned to his/her dismay that vigilance against all comers is the price for keeping copyright.
The other side is equally unfortunate. Well intentioned artists, for example create works they intend for the public, such as a play, without regard to copyright, only to find that someone comes along and files for copyright on the work for themselves in order to profit from the sale of the product. The original artist would have to pay a royalty to the copyright holder for the right to produce the play he himself wrote, and it would not be in the public domain as intended.
Copyright law is very intricate.
That said, if 1847usa meets the demand for the purchase of a license to use the material, then everyone continues to benefit as before. As I see it, that is the best way that the gang here at SCF can help.