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Database compilers in the spotlight again

Database compilers in the spotlight again

A data compilation work has again become the focus of a potential copyright battle concerning the Government's recently launched website, My School.Australia School Ranking, a privately owned…

A data compilation work has again become the focus of a potential copyright battle concerning the Government's recently launched website, My School.

Australia School Ranking, a privately owned website, has been asked to stop selling a report, which contains lists of top primary and secondary schools, compiled using data available on the My School website.

The Australian Curriculum Assessment and Reporting Authority (ACARA) issued the authors of the Australia School Ranking report with a letter requesting the report be removed from sale.

"The Australia School Ranking report includes a substantial number of statistical errors and incorrect data. At this stage, the inaccurate and misleading nature of information provided in the report is ACARA's primary concern," said ACARA CEO Peter Hill.

Whether copyright subsists in the My School data will be raised if ACARA launches legal proceedings, however Middletons partner Tony Watson, who acted for Local Directories in the Telstra Yellow Pages case said: "The Telstra case, following on from the IceTV decision...seems to have made it pretty clear, at least until there are any appeals, that copyright will not protect compilations of information ... unless it passes a number of tests.

"My understanding is that they have information about the school names, school numbers and scores which were obtained through a process," Watson said.

"So I believe if someone takes the information that's in there and creates their own work using that information, that's unlikely to be protected by copyright."

As Watson recognised, copyright law is experiencing rapid change evidenced by the recent influx of landmark decisions including iiNet, IceTV and Telstra v Phone Directories and this has provided certain challenges for copyright lawyers, such as Watson.

Describing the unusual circumstances he faced, Watson said preparing for the Telstra case was particularly difficult because at that time, the High Court was due to rule on IceTV.

"So it was very interesting, from a lawyer's perspective, just how you deal [with a case] when the law is changing rapidly throughout the course of the case," he said.

"It was a lawyer's nightmare."

- Briana Everett

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Database compilers in the spotlight again
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