In copyright law,a compilation is a collection of material such as short stories,photographs or architectural designs that you copyright as a collection.This gives the compilation a separate copyright from any of the individual pieces in it.Even if the individual contents aren't covered by copyright,you can copyright the compilation.
A compilation is an arrangement of existing material and doesn't have to be your own work.You can copyright a compilation of someone else's public domain photographs or music,for instance.You can compile material even if someone else owns the copyright,but you have to have the rights holder's permission to do so.Using copyrighted material without permission is still illegal,even in a compilation.
If your company contributes any new material to your compilation,the copyright on the compilation protects the new arrangement.It doesn't give you the copyright to anything else in the collection.If,for example,you include material that's in the public domain,those elements remain in the public domain.Someone could post that part of the compilation online legally,even though they can't do the same with the entire compilation.Including copyrighted material,even your own,doesn't extend or prolong the copyright for that material on its own.
If the compilation includes lots of new material,it's safest to identify the creators of each individual section when your company registers the copyright.Courts have ruled that when copyright registration for photo compilations doesn't identify the individual photographers,it doesn't apply to individual photos.That makes it easier for someone to extract individual elements from the compilation.You don't have to register material to get copyright,but without registration,you can't sue for infringement.
When your compilation is simply a collection of data rather than creative works,it gets trickier.You can't copyright information,only the way in which you present information.The BitLaw website says,for example,that a link to a website is data that can't be copyrighted,but BitLaw's compilations of links to legal websites can be protected.The way the facts are compiled has to be original.Courts have ruled that the lists of numbers in phone books,for instance,aren't protected because there's no originality in the arrangement.
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