Consider the following simple collection of data.
“Why do I have to be Mr. Pink?”
Tarantino’s first and best
“We’re not a Bank, Jerry.”
Overrated, but good
“I caught you a delicious bass.”
When is the funny part?
“I’ve got a bad feeling about this.”
The gold standard. Undefeated.
“All right, we waste him. No offense.”
20 years old and still convincing
“Fear the priest!”
The scariest movie ever, period
“That’s the only thing of yours I don’t want!”
Underrated, excellent, doesn’t deserve obscurity
- The Title column is a simple list of facts. These barely even qualify
as facts. By itself it’s nothing but a list of titles, and nobody
would argue that by making that list I should have exclusive use of
- The Year column is also a list of facts. This is somewhat more informative
but it’s still difficult to imagine that I should be able to prevent
anybody from using those two columns together. Any film fan could
have written it.
- Now add Genre 1. This is somewhat more arbitrary and requires judgment
on the part of the person making the classification, although it doesn’t
require a great deal of imagination or creativity to put a film in
that category (if you’ve seen it.) Nobody would argue that columns
1, 2, and 3 together belong to me.
- Genre 2 is where things get slightly more tricky. Each film has elements
of both genres, but viewers could reasonably disagree as to the appropriateness
of the second genre (or even the first). The second category requires
a little more judgment on the part of the compiler.
- Quotes are an interesting item. They are “bare facts”
in that they occur in the dialogue of each film; but selecting them
requires additional creativity beyond simply knowing in general what
the film is about. One might even argue that a little creativity is
required to choose a representative quote. The list gets arguably
more original with this, even though there’s been no original contribution
from the compiler.
- Score is a fully personal judgment. There is often “convergence”
among filmgoers here, but each score is still an individual creation
of the scorer. More originality has entered the compilation, this
time in the form of compiler-produced information.
- The Comments field consists of original, creative work. They’re just
short phrases, and in real life it’s very questionable that these
columns taken together could be considered sufficiently original for
copyright or any other kind of protection. But what if they were each
a sentence? Or three sentences?
Now imagine that there was an additional column, containing a full
original review for each film. The reviewer would own the copyright
to the review, and the entire compilation suddenly looks more like
a protectible work.
This example illustrates that while a database can be defined with
some precision, it’s often very difficult to decide what parts should
be protected and which parts should not.