----- Original Message ----
From: Sai Emrys <[log in to unmask]>
As I said earlier, this is not the same as the OED. In the case of
dictionaries, maps, phone books, etc., courts have ruled that - even
if the company publishing the information did all the research to
discover it - only the particular form of the compendium is copyright,
not the information itself.


Actually, the OED and phone books are different things. Dictionary entries themselves are generally not compendia. To refer back to Rural v Feist, there's certainly no original thought put into providing the information that John Smith lives at 1212 Main Street and has a particular phone number. That's a discoverable fact, and listing that fact without embellishment (as is generally done in a phone book) is not a creative act which is protectable by copyright law.

Dictionary definitions, though, have a creative element. For instance, here is the first definition of "dog" from various online dictionaries (courtesy of; quoted here verbatim under fair use):

1. domestic animal: a domestic carnivorous animal with a long muzzle, a fur coat, and a long fur-covered tail, whose characteristic call is a bark. Latin name Canis familiaris. (Source: MSN/Encarta)
1 a: canid; especially : a highly variable domestic mammal (Canis familiaris) closely related to the gray wolf (Source: Merriam-Webster Online)
a common four-legged animal, especially kept by people as a pet or to hunt or guard things (Source: Cambridge Advanced Learner's Dictionary)
a. any of a large and varied group of domesticated canines (Canis familiaris) often kept as a house pet or used for hunting, guarding people or property, etc. (Source:
Elements of these definitions are discoverable facts (such as the Latin species designation); most, though, are embellishments that fall under copyright protection just as much as any conlang's glossary entries would.
As for the OED, the definition entries themselves are copyrightable, but the sample quotations are not.
-- Paul