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    Re: Computer generated Almanac
    From: Jared Sherman
    Date: 2003 Sep 9, 12:09 -0400

    George, let me try to rephrase this clearly.
    
    From what is being said, one could boil it down to:
    
    "The USNO does not actually publish their own almanac tables, but only inserts 
    some cover matter around the British HMNAO tables. So the USNO are simply 
    acting as agents for the British and, as they are agents not authors, 
    copyright is not what it would be for a US author."
    
    That's one issue to bed.
    
    
    
    That's something else entirely. If one copies the *layout* of tables, it is 
    unlikely to be copyright infringement due to the exemption for basic graphic 
    materials. The specific example of this is a typical calendar layout, rows of 
    seven days times 5 weeks, more or less. That "design" cannot be copyrighted. 
    However, once you go beyond the basic utility of the design, if you start 
    replicating those areas like typefaces, you are more likely to be found in 
    violation. The finding is not a point of law, but a judicial finding on the 
    specifics of the matter.
    
    I could probably make a case for saying "The basic layout of these tables is 
    100 years old, and the entire community of navigators worldwide has been 
    trained to use the physical layout. Therefore, the layout is as a calendar, 
    and exempt." But I'm never dare to try setting the matter with the exact same 
    type. With upwards of 100,000 typefaces available on the market today, that 
    would be like flying a mylar kite in a lightning storm. And graphically, I'm 
    sure that the table matter itself could be presented in better form. Clearer, 
    perhaps tighter, certainly using some of the skills of graphic design--which 
    HMNO weren't paid to do.
    
    Since the actual "heart" of the almanac is simply the result of repetitive 
    mathematical iteration, it is not creative work and unless the actual formula 
    was protected (yes, there are protections for formulas too) anyone should be 
    able to set up a loop on a computer and print out results to their heart's 
    delight.
    
    Being neither a barrister, solicitor, Crown Counsel, or simple lawyer, I make 
    no argument and give no advice except to say that in theory I should be 
    capable of reading and understanding what my government has posted on this. 
    And, at least I've read them.
    
    
    

       
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