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    Re: Almanac Heaven
    From: Frank Reed CT
    Date: 2006 Mar 30, 19:48 EST

    Ken, you wrote:
    "You are partly right about  the copyright issue.  Even though, as you say, no
    one owns the position  of Mars, the British claim copyright to whatever data
    they  collect."
    That's ok, but they are not responsible for collecting more  than a trivial
    amount of data underlying the present Nautical Almanac, and there  is
    long-standing precedent for relinquishing copyright to that portion of the  data that
    the UK did collect. The whole content of the Nautical Almanac can be
    re-generated from scratch in no time.
    "They even extended this  thinking recently to tidal data in
    British ports.  Since they collected  the data, they have stopped several
    tidal prediction programs from being sold  without paying a royalty for the
    British part."
    Yes, and that ruling  also applies to international ports where the data has
    been collected by British  authorities. In this case, they have a point. I
    certainly wish they would make  it available for free, but of course, collecting
    this tidal data was expensive  and it is primarily relevant to commercial
    users. This is a product, and there's  no strong reason to give it up for free.
    "A case over  international copyright of data might go either way."
    But not ephemeris  data. No way. There is no rational court in the world that
    would award copyright  over the positions of the stars and planets to any
    authority in the UK. Indeed,  the very fact that this information is presently
    available, and has been  available for decades, in numerous products and in
    numerous online databases  *without* contest by any authority claiming copyright
    guarantees that there is  no legal case for copyright of the data in the
    Nautical  Almanac.
    "However, the British also claim copyright over the page  layout of the
    almanac which is a creative issue. Most everyone agrees that that  claim is proper."
    It is a proper "claim", yes. Even that could be argued  over since most of
    the layout was published in the American Nautical Almanac  *before* it was
    adopted for the common Nautical Almanac. This is the sort of  thing that could go
    either way in court. But we don't have to argue it in court  since the layout's
    not terrificly important in any case. The specific layout of  the Nautical
    Almanac is hardly sacrosanct, and it would be easy to devise  layouts that are
    functionally equivalent or even considerably superior. There  are many
    navigation enthusiasts, for example, who might be happier if the daily  pages were not
    cluttered with tables of twilight, sunrise/set, and moonrise/set  (wouldn't
    that be a nice spot for some lunar distance tables...). Of  course, for some
    navigators, even the tiniest change in the Sacred Almanac  Layout adopted in
    1958 would be an abomination against the Ephemeral Gods  themselves and there
    might be rioting the streets! But I think not.  
    42.0N 87.7W, or 41.4N  72.1W.

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