No Copyright in Yellow and White Pages

No Copyright in Yellow and White Pages

In a landmark decision handed down in the Federal Court, Justice Gordon held that Telstra had failed to establish that copyright subsists in the contents of the Yellow Pages and White Pages telephone directories.

Telstra and Sensis had alleged the publishers of ‘Local Directories’, which had been distributed in Queensland, Northern Territory and New South Wales, had infringed on their copyright by reproducing the Yellow and White Pages telephone directory entries.

Justice Gordon held that Telstra’s claim failed because it was unable to identify a human author of the contents of the directories.

“You must identify authors, and those authors must direct their contribution… to the particular form of expression,” said Justice Gordon.

“Start with the work. Find its authors. They must have done something, howsoever defined, that can be considered original. The Applicants have failed to satisfy these conditions. Whether originality be the product of some ‘independent intellectual effort’ and/or the exercise of ‘sufficient effort of a literary nature’ or involve a ‘creative spark’ or the exercise of ‘skill and judgement’, it is not evident in the claim made by the Applicant,” said Justice Gordon.

It has been asserted that the implications of this decision could include the finding of no copyright in other data compilations that cost a lot to compile on the grounds that these are computer-generated.