Following a significant court decision, Yellow and White Pages content is not entitled to copyright protection in Australia. Assuming the case is upheld, any entity can legally copy the content from a Sensis directory, even to build a competitive local search or directory product, according to Australian press reports.
The decision is the outcome of a lawsuit filed by Sensis and its parent company, Telstra, against Local Directories, a small independent Australian publisher that used Sensis data in building its product.
The presiding judge argued, in essence, that the effort involved in building the databases didn’t rise to the level of intellectual property worthy of protection.
Sensis also released a statement following the ruling, which said, “This decision raises fundamental issues about the score of copyright law in relation to complex compilations, with far reaching impact beyond the facts of this particular case. Sensis is presently considering its position in relation to an appeal.”
We spoke also on Tuesday with Sensis CEO Bruce Akhurst, who downplayed the impact of the ruling. He pointed out that while the decision was not welcome, it really only clarifies the legality of an already common practice, copying Sensis’s listings data and classification system. He notes out that the content of the actual ads within the Sensis directories is and will continue to be protected under copyright.