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Feist v. Rural

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Facts: Rural is a local telephone company. Per regulation, Rural publishes an annual telephone directory. Feist wanted to publish an area-wide directory and got permission from all other local telephone companies in the area to license listings, Rural being the only one that withheld permission. Feist took directory listings straight from Rural's directory. Rural sued for copyright infringement.

Holding: The directory listings are not copyrightable. No infringement.

Reasons: Facts are not copyrightable because they were discovered rather than created. The facts are not "original" in that the fact-finder did not originally create them, but copied them from the world around them. Compilation of facts are protectable only to the extent that the arrangement or selection of facts into a compilation is an act of creativity. Only original expression is protected by copyright law. That anything created by the "sweat of the brow" is copyrightable is an old, fallacious idea.