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Charging for birding information....

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Old Monday 22nd November 2004, 09:00   #1
riverfish
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Question Charging for birding information....

Hi all.

I hope this doesn't sound like a stupid question, but I do feel it is a valid one.

How (if at all) does the European Court of Justice ruling on the publication of football fixtures affect the ability of e.g. BirdGuides, BirdCall etc to charge for birding news?

In case you haven't read the story... "A company called DataCo supplies the media with, and charges for, information on fixtures. European Court judges ruled that if sporting bodies have made an investment in their databases then they can charge for the data. But that does not apply to football fixtures, where information such as which team is playing where and when, is already in the public domain."

So, is the analagous info for bird-watching, i.e. what bird is where at what time, also public domain information, and so can such sites continue charge for such information?

As the vast majority of information shown on such sites is initially submitted by a member of the public, I would think it would be public domain, but I no expert on such matters.

Intrigued,

- David.
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Old Monday 22nd November 2004, 09:44   #2
Adey Baker
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Well, one fairly obvious point - whatever the law - is the fact that they make their living by charging for the info.

So no charge - no info. No info - no knowledge in the public domain!

Thus, back to the days of the old 'grapevine' for your info where you had to know someone 'in the know'

One of the old problems of the grapevine was if someone passed on the location of the bird but forgot to pass on any info on special access or parking then everyone else farther down the line was unaware that such info existed - hence one of the main reasons that Birdline, etc., was set up. To make sure everyone was in the know on such special arrangements and thus not giving twitchers a bad name - hmmm!
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Old Monday 22nd November 2004, 09:54   #3
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Surely the reason the bird information is in the public domain is because the Info Services put it there. Football fixtures are readily available freely from other sources.

As Adey says no charge means no services means no bird information.
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Old Monday 22nd November 2004, 10:53   #4
marek_walford
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In a legal sense the fact that a bird is at a certain site is in the "public domain". Once the news services take that public info and supply it in a different form (phone, pager, web) etc. they own the copyright on the presentation of the info but no the info itself.

Therefore, you can supply the same info in a different form (how different is complicated) and you have copyright on the new presentation. This is how the services can all share the same info as they present it differently. However, if company A copied the text of company B's pager message exactly and then sent it on their service they would be on dodgy ground.

I think that's essentially the situation. I covered Intelectual Property Law at university but it was a few years ago now.
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Old Monday 22nd November 2004, 14:14   #5
Steve Lister
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Effectively, the information services do not charge for the bird information. They charge for supplying you with it, which is quite different. It is the pager, texting service or whatever that you pay for, not the information.

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Old Monday 22nd November 2004, 18:06   #6
Andrew
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Quote:
Originally Posted by robinm
Surely the reason the bird information is in the public domain is because the Info Services put it there. Football fixtures are readily available freely from other sources.
Not entirely, the services do rip some info off independent amateur websites and release it.
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Old Monday 22nd November 2004, 18:28   #7
Stephen Dunstan
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Andrew
Not entirely, the services do rip some info off independent amateur websites and release it.
Well yes they do (they use my stuff but they are welcome to). But that works both ways. If info for my local patch I have a webpage for is published by the bird info services I will 'lift' it, though I do acknowledge the source.

Stephen.
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Old Monday 22nd November 2004, 18:31   #8
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Hi Stephen,

I don't mind either. For example, if I was going round your neck of the woods I would probably keep an eye on your website if I found it and then when I am there I will have no access to it but he news will be lifted and sent to my mobby so we all win. But I just think it would be nice to ask the "little guy".
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Old Monday 22nd November 2004, 19:21   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Andrew
Not entirely, the services do rip some info off independent amateur websites and release it.
How do they get away with that ? ... surely they are not allowed to sell on info someone else has given freely ...
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Old Monday 22nd November 2004, 22:06   #10
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Perhaps the whole bird information service could go an about turn. A free service funded by advertising which actually pays birders to submit info to it!!! Make it more interesting by offering a payment related to rarity status even. Now there's a thought.
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Old Monday 22nd November 2004, 22:21   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Karl J
How do they get away with that ? ... surely they are not allowed to sell on info someone else has given freely ...
This does happen as I know who subscibes to my newsgroup and have seen sightings repeated from it. As far as I can see however that once it is on the newsgroup it is effectively in the public domain. However I think that a reference to it's original source would be polite rather than just "reported".
I guess that in theory you could add a copyright to every post?
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Old Monday 22nd November 2004, 22:29   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jpoyner
Perhaps the whole bird information service could go an about turn. A free service funded by advertising which actually pays birders to submit info to it!!! Make it more interesting by offering a payment related to rarity status even. Now there's a thought.
If you moved house to a rarity hotspot Birdline could pay your mortgage for you!
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Old Tuesday 23rd November 2004, 06:02   #13
Stephen Dunstan
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jpoyner
Make it more interesting by offering a payment related to rarity status even. Now there's a thought.
As a general answer I think this is a non starter. The small minority who put out deliberately false reports would then get financially rewarded for doing so. I can just see that going down really well.

I think it is only fair to point out some info services do make payments to conservation charities, though not necessarily on the scale of the profits they may be making.

Stephen.
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Old Wednesday 24th November 2004, 15:01   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Andrew
Not entirely, the services do rip some info off independent amateur websites and release it.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Stephen Dunstan
Well yes they do (they use my stuff but they are welcome to). But that works both ways. If info for my local patch I have a webpage for is published by the bird info services I will 'lift' it, though I do acknowledge the source.

Stephen.
Similarly here in Bedfordshire we have our own local Yahoo newsgroup, which Birdguides (and presumably other news services) frequently lift for their news service (well, not that frequently, cos there's not that much worthwhile news from Beds )...

...however, I don't mind them doing that, because if a record which hasn't been on our local newsgroup appears on Birdguides (or an interesting record in a neighbouring county - say something which might represent an influx, or a bird which might stray across the border), I and some others will lift the message (crediting the origin - usually with a remark like 'anyone know anything about this!' or 'we might get one of these!') for the benefit of our newsgroup users who don't get a national news service.

So far Birdguides haven't objected, probably because I'm only repeating a tiny fraction of their output to a few people, and because the info will now be checked out and updated quicker. So it does work both ways..

...my only (very minor) quibble being that sometimes the news that gets lifted is incredibly banal - but then that just makes me feel better that I'm sitting here at work
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Old Wednesday 24th November 2004, 15:36   #15
Adey Baker
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Quote:
Originally Posted by David Ball

...my only (very minor) quibble being that sometimes the news that gets lifted is incredibly banal -
I know what you mean. I reported a fly-over Merlin to my county's news page on Saturday and it was duly lifted and put onto Birdguides about 8 hours after it had gone over!

As a Birdguides subscriber I have no problem with that at all, but if I thought that there was any chance of it staying around and being re-located I would have sent a record into them straight away, anyway!
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