Telstra Continues Copyright Fight for Information Placed in Phone Books

Telstra will be seeking special leave to appeal to the High Court against the Full Federal Court decision that copyright does not subsist in the information contained in its Yellow Pages and White Pages telephone directories.

Telstras case was rejected in the first instance by the Federal Court in February 2010 and then rejected again by the Full Federal Court in December 2010. The Court held in both instances and that in respect of factual compilations and databases, copyright only exists where there has been a creative element or independent intellectual effort of a sufficient nature. In addition, the Full Federal Court held that information in these directories was produced largely through an automated computer process. For copyright to exist there has to be a human author and the directories did not have a human author, thus they are not protected under the Copyright Act 1968 (Act).

This ruling has a negative impact on businesses that create copyright works largely through the use of computers, as there is no clear direction as to how much "human input" is actually required for the work to be afforded copyright protection. Accordingly, businesses wanting to establish copyright in such works must precisely and specifically identify all the relevant authors along with their creative and intellectual input.

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