Telstra has failed to establish that copyright subsists in the contents of the Yellow Pages and White Pages telephone directories, it was determined in the Federal Court last week.
Telstra and Sensis alleged that the publishers of "Local Directories" had infringed copyright by reproducing entries from the Yellow Pages and White Pages.
The Federal Court's Justice Gordon held that Telstra was unable to identify who the authors of the content were and that no "independent intellectual effort" or "sufficient effort of a literary nature" was identified. The fact that the contents of the directories were mostly computer-generated was also a relevant factor.
Justice Gordon noted that the protection of data compilation works, such as phone directories, should be an issue for future consideration by Parliament - an issue raised in last year's High Court decision, IceTV v Nine Network.
Middletons partner Tony Watson who acted for Local Directories said in a statement: "This decision will have a significant impact on compilers of databases. The belief that such works are protected by copyright has been clearly dispelled by this decision. The mere fact that a significant amount of labour or significant money has been expended in producing a work does not make it capable of copyright protection."