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    Re: Almanac Heaven
    From: Ken Gebhart
    Date: 2006 Mar 30, 22:14 -0600

    On 3/30/06 6:48 PM, "Frank Reed"  wrote:
    
    > 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.
    >
    > And:
    > "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.
    >
    > And:
    > "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.
    >
    > And:
    > "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.  
    >
    > -FER
    > 42.0N 87.7W, or 41.4N  72.1W.
    > www.HistoricalAtlas.com/lunars
    >
    Frank,
    
    Great comments, and some that I will earmark in case some sort of litigation
    looms in the future as far as the data is concerned. The layout, however, is
    a self perpetuating situation.  All of the navigation textbooks show a
    sample page of the almanac, and discuss how to read it.  If one had a
    different almanac page, such as Reeds' used to be, it would be hard to
    follow the textbook.
    
    Ken
    
    
    

       
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