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Censorship Media Television

Nielsen Sends Wikipedia DMCA Takedown For Station Descriptions 278

Posted by timothy
from the for-our-eyeballs-only dept.
RockMFR writes "A DMCA takedown notice sent by Nielsen Media Research to the Wikimedia Foundation has resulted in the deletion of over 300 pages on the English Wikipedia. The pages were 'templates' and categories that listed television stations within various geographical markets in the United States. Discussion of the deletions has focused on whether this type of information can actually be copyrighted, though the content of the takedown notice have not been made public."
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Nielsen Sends Wikipedia DMCA Takedown For Station Descriptions

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  • Facts (Score:5, Insightful)

    by DustyShadow (691635) on Saturday September 20, 2008 @08:13PM (#25088927) Homepage
    are not copyrightable. There is no "question" here.
    • Formation of facts? (Score:5, Informative)

      by phorm (591458) on Saturday September 20, 2008 @08:30PM (#25089063) Journal

      I believe that in some cases, however, compilations can. In that case - though I could be wrong - specific arrangement of facts could be considered copyrighted if it were copied verbatim, like OCR'ing a phonebook or something of the sort.

      If memory serves cases have gone for and against this though, so it's not that clear-cut.

      As noted on the admin page, "The entire categorization schema that was in place was copyrighted by Nielsen and could not be used under our GFDL license," so it wasn't just that the information was used, but that it was copied pretty much directly.

      • by cpt kangarooski (3773) on Saturday September 20, 2008 @08:39PM (#25089111) Homepage

        You are correct in that some compilations of facts are copyrightable as compilations, though that copyright does not extend to the facts within. However, like all copyrightable works, in order for a compilation to be copyrightable, it must be creative. In this case, the selection and arrangement of facts must be creative. Selecting all the facts, and arranging them in a pedestrian fashion would not qualify. This is why, for example, the white pages in phone books are not copyrightable: the selection is everyone with a listed number in the area covered, their names, their numbers, and their addresses, and the arrangement is alphabetical, by last name. It is the acme of an uncreative work. This is all discussed at length in the famous Feist decision by the Supreme Court; I'd suggest reading it. If it's uncopyrightable, verbatim copying is A-OK. There is absolutely no 'sweat of the brow' doctrine in the US.

        A creative phone book would be one that didn't list everyone, and perhaps arranged them in some creative fashion. A listing of your favorite places to go, arranged by how much you like them, would probably qualify.

        Whether the material at issue here is copyrightable or not, I couldn't venture an opinion, not having seen it.

        • by Cylix (55374) on Saturday September 20, 2008 @10:05PM (#25089583) Homepage Journal

          They should also send a take down notice to another illicit site as well then.

          I for one welcome any DCMA notices and other infringement notices be sent immediately to a near damn mirror.

          It's practically un-american that anyone can access those same details via fcc.gov. Those weezles have been indexing this exact same information for ages under the pretense of "licensing."

          In fact, I thought the details were rather verbatim so these two problem children probably get the warez from the same place.

      • by jonbryce (703250) on Saturday September 20, 2008 @08:42PM (#25089129) Homepage

        You might be thinking about the situation in Europe, where database compilations are copyrightable; but this doesn't apply in the US.

        • by Klaus_1250 (987230) on Sunday September 21, 2008 @12:23AM (#25090251)
          True, but you can work around the copyright of database compilations by not using the original database. Not possible in all cases where very specific data is involved. The reasons why database compilations are copyrightable in Europe is simply the fact that compiling a (good) database can take quite a bit of effort (e.g time and money), with some exceptions to the rule (e.g. your average phonebook).
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by westlake (615356)
      Facts are not copyrightable. There is no "question" here.
      .

      But how Nielsen organizes and interprets those facts may be. How it defines a broadcast market. How it defines a station's target audience.

      The advertiser wants to know which FM stations own the drive time market in Miami. He doesn't give a damn if they have an out-of-town zip code.

      • Re:Facts (Score:5, Informative)

        by nabsltd (1313397) on Saturday September 20, 2008 @10:19PM (#25089683)

        But how Nielsen organizes and interprets those facts may be. How it defines a broadcast market. How it defines a station's target audience.

        The only thing that Nielsen "defines" in this case is their own name for the DMA. The FCC defines the DMAs.

        Nielsen does have extra groupings and organizations of stations that cross DMAs, but AFAIK, those weren't part of Wikipedia.

  • Spineless? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by eggman9713 (714915) <{eggman97132007} {at} {mac.com}> on Saturday September 20, 2008 @08:18PM (#25088965)
    Mod me flamebait if you want, but I thought Wikipedia was all about information being free. For having the tendency to cave so easily, makes me wonder what kind of people are really running the place.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by NiceGeek (126629)

      It's called the law. If you get a takedown notice you HAVE to comply. If someone files a counterclaim the information can be put back up.

      • Re:Spineless? (Score:5, Informative)

        by DustyShadow (691635) on Saturday September 20, 2008 @08:27PM (#25089041) Homepage
        Actually you don't have to take it down but you risk being sued as a result. So the above poster who said there is a difference between a takedown notice and a legal threat really doesn't know what she is talking about.
        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by eggman9713 (714915)
          Wasn't there some sort of ruling that parties who DMCA notices are required to do research as to if they really have merit?
        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by archkittens (1272770)

          if you want safe-harbor, and wikipedia does, then you comply. if wikipedia doesnt comply, it loses safe-harbor for a lot more than a claim from a statistics company. DMCA takedown notices being used more often than cease and desist letters (nearly functional equivalents), is in my opinion, better. a cease and desist letter doesnt grant amnesty to wikipedia or youtube or whomever for having the content as long as they comply. i would say DMCA takedown notices are more of a legal compromise tactic than a thre

      • Re:Spineless? (Score:5, Interesting)

        by sukotto (122876) on Saturday September 20, 2008 @10:44PM (#25089821)

        I suspect you're trolling but I'll bite. There's nothing stopping wikipedia from trying to verify that the takedown notice is legit *before* removing the info.

        "We received your request to takedown [list of pages] that you allege fall under your copyright.

        We comply with all valid DMCA notices. Before we comply, you must provide proof, in writing, that demonstrates both
        A) That this material is copyrighted
        B) That you are the copyright holder.

        We need that information to combat frivolous and questionable takedown notices. Please provide the above information by [date 30 days in the future] to avoid the legal action we take against persons who send us baseless threats

        Thank you very much

        [Name here]"

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by stry_cat (558859)
          A valid DCMA notice will already have that information: http://www.chillingeffects.org/dmca512/question.cgi?QuestionID=440Section [chillingeffects.org] 512(c)(3) sets out the elements for notification under the DMCA. Subsection A (17 U.S.C. 512(c)(3)(A)) states that to be effective a notification must include: 1) a physical/electronic signature of a person authorized to act on behalf of the owner of the infringed right; 2) identification of the copyrighted works claimed to have been infringed; 3) identification of the material
    • by Dan541 (1032000)

      I have to agree, It's pretty pathetic to just give in when someone lodges a complaint what happened to the good old response emails telling the cry babies where to cram it?

      • It's easier, and safer. Telling them to cram it works fine for PirateBay, but YouTube and Wikipedia have home offices where their assets can be much more easily seized and their businesses shut down. They also have the option of putting the material back up when the lawyers have gone over it, which both of them have done in various instances.

        Fortunately, for really interesting shutdown material, theres's Wikileaks. I'm very pleased with them for publishing material that we do need to know about, but which i

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      For having the tendency to cave so easily, makes me wonder what kind of people are really running the place.

      Probably the kind who realise that a non-profit organisation would do better trying to maintain what they have than fighting over the small stuff. I'm not saying it's right, it's just that they have plenty to lose by taking this up in court, or just by flatly disobeying the notice.

      Besides, perhaps Wikipedia just might not be a rebellious statement against copyright. Maybe they agree and took it down b

  • by Jane Q. Public (1010737) on Saturday September 20, 2008 @08:22PM (#25089007)
    ... should be a criminal offense. And a serious one, too.

    Actually, the ability to force someone to cease speech on simple "say-so", without ever having visited court first, should never have become law in the first place. I believe DMCA takedown notices will eventually be determined to be a classic case of unbridled "prior restraint".
    • by void* (20133) on Saturday September 20, 2008 @08:36PM (#25089091)

      I believe DMCA takedown notices will eventually be determined to be a classic case of unbridled "prior restraint"

      Of course, I think they should be done away with, because they are far too easily abusable - but I don't think the courts will ever consider them as "prior restraint" - because the content has to already be somewhere for a DMCA notice to be issued.

      Say, hypothetically, that I took a paper you wrote and posted it on my blog. You issue a DMCA takedown notice - but I've already posted it, otherwise you wouldn't have even known I had it.

      If you could send me a DMCA to prevent me from putting anything up in the first place, that would be prior restraint. As I understand it, though, that's not how they work.

      • So... not prior restraint. But it certainly IS restraint of speech, without due process.
        • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

          by conlaw (983784)
          Yes, Jane, it is a restraint on speech; however, I don't believe that Nielsen is a governmental entity. The free speech provision of the Bill of Rights only forbids governmental actions. In fact, the Bill of Rights originally applied only to the federal government; various Supreme Court cases have held that the Fourteenth Amendments makes these provisions applicable to states, municipalities, and other "governmental entities."

          The only free speech rules that would apply in this case are any applicable stat

          • Re:Good point (Score:5, Insightful)

            by SleepingWaterBear (1152169) on Saturday September 20, 2008 @10:15PM (#25089647)

            Whether Nielsen is a governmental entity or not is quite irrelevant here. The DMCA notice being used to restrain free speech takes its power from the threat of legal penalty which would be inflicted by the government.

            Now it may be true that this notice isn't valid, and therefore doesn't have the actual force of the government behind it (the article is sort of short on details there so I don't know), but the fact that the DMCA is constructed such that companies have every incentive to obey take down notices whether valid or not means that the law, and hence the government is responsible for the restraint of free speech, at least indirectly.

          • by dachshund (300733)

            Technically, it's not Nielsen that's restraining speech. The Federal Government passed this law and it (and the state courts) are generally responsible for enforcing it. Thus if the law results in restraints on speech, the government can be held accountable. (Theoretically, of course.)

          • the courts have also held that speech may not be forcefully restrained without due process; it matters little who is doing the restraining.

            The fact that restraint of speech principles apply to individuals, and not just government, is evident from a vast multitude of court cases. If you doubt this, you need only look up cases involving blacks in the South and the KKK, for example.
            • Wow! I'll have to agree with you here JQP. The DMCA is a government instrument, so, even if Nielsen is the one using it, the government had its hand in approving and enforcing a law that can so easily be abused to restrain free speech.
    • by sohp (22984)

      From Wikipedia: "anyone who makes a false claim of infringement ... is liable for the damages suffered by the other parties, including legal fees."

      The law is very one-sided about it though, and recovering damages is prohibitively expensive. Oh yeah, there's also the fact that the law states that a counter-notification to restore the material must be sworn under penalty of perjury, unlike the original takedown notice, which just needs to be a good-faith attempt, with no criminal penalty for falsehood.

      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        Being liable for damages is not the same thing as a criminal offense.
      • by Anonymous Coward
        I was looking for TV station information, by geographic location, and I went to check good-old Wikipedia.

        I made a promise to myself that if I found the information there, I was going to hit the donate button and send $346,217.12.

        Alas, I didn't find the information.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward

        "Oh yeah, there's also the fact that the law states that a counter-notification to restore the material must be sworn under penalty of perjury, unlike the original takedown notice, which just needs to be a good-faith attempt, with no criminal penalty for falsehood."

        This is...how do you say?...not true. Both the takedown notice AND the counter-notice need to be sworn to.

        From the US Code, Title 17, Chapter 5, Section 512, Paragraph (c) Subsection (3) "Elements of notification":

        (A) To be effective under this

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      False or fraudulent notices ARE a criminal offense. The question is what constitutes "false or fraudulent"

      It is a requirement for the filer of a DCMA takedown notice to certify, under penalty of perjury, that:
      * The own or represent the owner of copyrighted material
      * Identification of the specific work being infringed.
      * Identification of the specific work which infringes the copyright
      * A "good faith" notice that the alleged infringer is not licensed or permitted by law to infringe the work.

      Because of the pe

    • by jonbryce (703250) on Saturday September 20, 2008 @08:45PM (#25089147) Homepage

      It is a criminal offence.

      The notice contains the following statement:

      "I hereby certify under penalty of perjury that the information in this notice is accurate and that I am authorized to act on behalf of $copyrightholder, the copyright owner of the intellectual property rights. I have a good faith belief that none of the materials or activities listed above have been authorized by $copyrightholder, its agents, or the law."

    • I'll let Scientology know [eff.org]!

    • Perjury is a criminal offense, and it is serious.

      • by RicoX9 (558353)

        Perjury is a criminal offense, and it is serious.

        Tell that to my ex-wife, who perjured herself many times over in our divorce trial. The judge could have cared less.

        You really have to piss a judge off for them to take perjury seriously. It's one of those things that they have the discretion to ignore, apparently.

        • Well, naturally. A lot like barratry charges; both could fix a lot of BS we see if any judges cared.

      • It has to be enforced before it can be take seriously.
  • From TFA (Score:5, Informative)

    by EaglemanBSA (950534) on Saturday September 20, 2008 @08:32PM (#25089069)

    The entire categorization schema that was in place was copyrighted by Nielsen and could not be used under our GFDL license.

    the DMCA notice included at least the use of Nielsen's 'Designated Market Area' (DMA) classification system. As our Media market article says, Nielsen coined the term and holds a trademark on it. The takedown notice may have included more, but I think it is fairly clear that much at least was an issue. Hence

    It looks like they used a categorizing scheme originally produced and copyrighted by Nielsen, which could warrant a legit takedown request - the complete takedown of the pages (especially such a large number of them), however, seems to be overkill.

    That you can get a copyright on something like that, to me, seems ridiculous, but then again, I don't make money by selling people their own production numbers back to them.

    • Nielsen obviously can't prevent Wikipedia from having templates listing, say, television stations in the New York City area, even if it happens to be the same ones Nielsen lists. They at least have a borderline claim on using the specific names and numbers from their Designated Market Area system, though.

    • Nielsen coined the term and holds a trademark on it.

      DMCA takedown requests are meant to be used in cases of alleged copyright violations. Trademarks and copyrights are two different things, so Nielsen's recourse in this instance does not include filing a DMCA takedown request.

      If trademark protection is the only thing at stake here, the original editor could easily file an un-takedown request and tempt the fates as to whether Nielsen files a lawsuit against them or Wikimedia Foundation for improper use of trademarks (a suit they would likely lose, since it w

  • by TheSpoom (715771) * <{ten.00mrebu} {ta} {todhsals}> on Saturday September 20, 2008 @08:33PM (#25089073) Homepage Journal

    Apparently Toledo TV [wikipedia.org] has been undeleted. (Mirror [uberm00.net] in case it goes again.)

    How in God's name is an association of TV station titles to markets in which they can be received copyrightable?

    • It's a clean remake (Score:5, Informative)

      by davidwr (791652) on Saturday September 20, 2008 @08:46PM (#25089153) Homepage Journal

      The Google Cache [209.85.165.104] is different, at least for now. The key difference: The words "Nielson DMA#."

      The Internet Archive also has older versions [archive.org].

      • by TheSpoom (715771) *

        Yeah, I just noticed that looking at the talk page. So wait, are Nielson claiming copyright over a number? A number clearly publicly available since Wikipedia can link to their results?

        • by davidwr (791652) on Saturday September 20, 2008 @09:09PM (#25089261) Homepage Journal

          We don't know the whole story but this much is being guessed about:

          Nielson divides the country into "Market areas" some of which are stand-alone metro areas and some of which are combinations of cities which may contain "creative content." For example, if the metro areas A, B, C, and D are in close proximity, you can combine them in dozens of ways, ranging from lumping them all together into 1 market area, having 4 separate market areas, or one of several combinations of 2 or 3 market areas. Doing this across the country creates a list which is potentially copyrightable because it contains the creative thought that went into deciding just where to combine the metro areas into the market areas.

          • by TheSpoom (715771) *

            Huh. So were the articles / categories in question copying information by using the same market areas? And if so, how can they claim copyright over "the area of Toledo"?

            I realize this is more complicated than it seems at first glance, but it still seems frivolous on Nielson's part. It's a shame that the DMCA requires such quick action on Wikipedia's part (i.e. deleting the articles in question rather than updating them to remove the "copyrighted" information).

          • It is creative if these are not universally recognized metro areas like Dallas/Ft. Worth or Urbana-Champaign. It seems to me that most metro areas would be common knowledge.

  • by CuteSteveJobs (1343851) on Saturday September 20, 2008 @08:34PM (#25089081)
    I get marketing research phone calls from Neilsen subsidiaries doing surveys. If I have time, I do them. Now I'll tell them *NO*. You can't have it both ways, Nielsen. I suggest other readers do the same.

    They also mailed me a survey when I bought a new car. My prize was 'a chance' to win some petrol. An hour of my time for 'a chance'. They seem to have an inflated view of their own self-worth.

    In this episode: A marketing research company learns about public relations.
    • by Henry V .009 (518000) on Saturday September 20, 2008 @08:50PM (#25089165) Journal

      I get marketing research phone calls from Neilsen subsidiaries doing surveys. If I have time, I do them. Now I'll tell them *NO*. You can't have it both ways, Nielsen. I suggest other readers do the same.

      You'll just get Firefly canceled.

      • I'm skeptical of that. It's Nielsen's extensive use of extremely questionable surveying methods that causes Firefly's viewers to be undercounted in the first place. Few people in the Firefly demographic actually respond to Nielsen's phone surveys, and those who do are *not* representative of that demographic.

        The sooner they abandon such junk statistics, the better. Why not have the cable companies just pass on their aggregate statistics, and satellite TV, the info on the descrambler?

        • by Chyeld (713439)

          You make the flawed assumption that the point is to count everyone and not "everyone who is receptive to advertising as used by the networks". Remember, you aren't the customer, you are the product. Networks are selling to advertisers, the only reason they care about you is because that's what they are selling.

      • by RzUpAnmsCwrds (262647) on Sunday September 21, 2008 @01:30AM (#25090507)

        True story - I was at a movie theater seeing "Get Smart", and noticed Nielsen researchers at the theater handing out surveys. I walked up to one, and exclaimed:

        "You bastards! You killed Firefly!"

  • by thesandbender (911391) on Saturday September 20, 2008 @08:43PM (#25089131)
    Not sure what information the pages had on them, but you can get a lot of technical information on stations from the FCC. Including the the exact lat/long of their antenna, it's height above sea level, output in watts, etc. http://www.fcc.gov/mb/video/tvq.html [fcc.gov] You can also easily get programming information at tv.yahoo.com. I'm not sure what Neilsen is trying to "protect" here.
    • Nielsen produces marketing data, like viewership numbers and which station belongs to which market, etc. The technical data from the FCC is publicly available.

      The problem is that any listing of TV station relies on those Nielsen numbers because every station crafts their programming and coverage based on those numbers. Further, the FCC uses them in some of their rules! There's one rule that says a station is allowed to exceed the FCC power limit to "match the coverage of the largest station in the market

  • are they going to sue the FCC for their database of commercial television and radio stations?

    this is just too crazy and frivolous?
  • Idiots. (Score:5, Funny)

    by Ortega-Starfire (930563) on Saturday September 20, 2008 @09:13PM (#25089277) Journal

    I have one thing to say to the dumbasses that filed this DMCA notice:

    09 f9 11 02 9d 74 e3 5b d8 41 56 c5 63 56 88 c0

  • Now I'm Worried (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Trip Ericson (864747) on Saturday September 20, 2008 @09:30PM (#25089405) Homepage

    This DMCA notice now makes me worry about my own site. It uses the same list, which is in fact the same list the FCC uses in its own rules and regulations. I've started investigating alternative listing methods, but none of them make sense because they all organize their "target city" by DMA! Listing by state is stupid because a station in New Jersey always targets New York or Philadelphia. Without being able to use the Nielsen DMA, the whole system of listing stations goes to hell.

    Maybe it's just me, but I don't like the FCC making rules that cannot be read because some company has a copyright on it. Examples:

    When digital TV stations were signing on, the FCC said commercial stations in the top 100 markets have to be on the air by 05/01/2002. If you don't have permission to look at Nielsen's "copyrighted" list, then how would a station be able to know what market they're in? Not every station is subscribed to Nielsen's data.

    In 47CFR73.622(f)(5), the FCC lists an exception that allows stations to expand coverage to match "the largest station in the market." How do you know which stations are in your market if you're not allowed to look at Nielsen's market boundaries?

    This whole thing rubs me the wrong way, and makes me nervous.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Yartrebo (690383)

      There's precedent with building codes. They're both law and copyrighted. And building codes aren't an obscure part of law - you essentially cannot get a permit to build anything without you (or your contractor) knowing the building code).

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Adzigari (1265544)

      My grandpa worked for various cable companies back during the 90s. He would basically be put in charge of a new TV station office and get them on their feet. I was little, but I remember some sort of map of what stations/services were available where. I think there was a brochure that was publicly available that listed all cable companies in the area, with all the stations they offered and such.

      This was before cable internet was even heard of so there wasn't much else to list other than TV stations. Am I th

    • Make your own site copyrighted. That way if nielsen sends you a DMCA takedown notice, send them back a copyright violation notice stating they didn't get your written permission to copy stuff from your website to send you the DMCA takedown.
      This is how companiy lawyers think.
      Use their own notice to your advantage and claim in courts you were wronged. Plus sue them in small-claims court. Tell the court nieslen copied stuff from your site and show the judge "crucial" parts of their letter (silently ignoring th

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      > Maybe it's just me, but I don't like the FCC making rules that cannot
      > be read because some company has a copyright on it.

      Reminds me of an episode of Numb3rs last season.

      (paraphrasing)

      FBI Agent: You're under arrest for exporting classified research
      Pakistani Scientist: I didn't know my research was restricted! How was I supposed to know??
      FBI Agent: The list of classified information is classified

      Oh yeah. Get the brown guy!

  • by Helldesk Hound (981604) on Saturday September 20, 2008 @09:38PM (#25089457) Homepage

    This only demonstrates to me that laws such as the DMCA (given their extremely wide scope and the relative inability of any USian citizen to challenge a (good or bad) takedown notice without spending a fortune on lawyers and court fees) could only have been passed by a body that only has the interests of commercial corporations at heart.

    Surely information such as the reception range of various television stations quite rightly is public information.

    DMCA notices shouldn't have been needed for this. Simply going in and making the requisite modifications, or asserting that certain information is copyrighted, and then citing proof of copyright should have been all that is required.

    And besides that, isn't the Neilson corporation about producing viewer statistics not about regulating the reception areas of the transmitters for various television stations?

  • as I understand it, in order to stay within the 'safe harbors' provision, the website operator has to take down content basically immediately and then review, and give the chance for the poster/publisher to respond.

    I'm curious - on Wikipedia, is a DMCA takedown he same technically as a community-driven "delete"?

    Does the community do the copyright review or are there staff at wikipedia that make the call?

  • Consider the value Mendeleev added to the names of the elements when, instead of listing them in alphabetical order, he organized them into the Periodic Table.

    Consider the value Tom Lehrer added to them when he arranged them to make a funny song out of them.

  • by Hao Wu (652581)
    What would Wikileaks do?

    This is why companies want to move to other countries, or in some cases the ocean. [slashdot.org]
  • Listing TV stations that are sorted in geographical order is a copyright infringement?

    How can that be? makes no sense to me.

    Beside, how can Nielsen Media Research own this type of listing in the first place? Aren't these stations already OWNED as is? How can Neilsen Media Research even think that they are the only entity allowed to own such a list and I assume dictate who else can either display it or use it? Anyone can browse the various websites these TV networks have, and come up with a list of their ow

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday September 20, 2008 @10:16PM (#25089659)

    OK, having actually READ TFA and some other postings about this topic, here's what this appears to be about.

    Wikipedia wanted to list all the TV stations for each major television market.

    But how do you define what stations are in a given "market"? For example, does the "New York City" market area include Newark, NJ? What about Trenton, NJ? Does it extend into Connecticut? If so, how far?

    Ultimately, the way you group a set of locations into regions is somewhat arbitrary, and there are a lot of ways to do it. For example, the US Census Bureau has one set of metropolitan areas they use to report major statistics. Nielsen has their own grouping of cities (and therefore stations located in those cities) into markets.

    Nielsen's grouping is not identical to other public groupings like the US Census bureau's. It's what they feel are the appropriate groupings for television advertising marketing, since that's who their customers are. And they put work into developing and refining their classification scheme.

    What appears to have happened is that Wikipedia wanted to list television station, and wanted to organize that list of stations by Nielsen market area. Heck, take a look at the delete log in the original post--they were even calling their organization "Nielsen markets."

    Nielsen's position, as I understand it, is that Nielsen's mapping of cities (and therefore stations) into markets is their own unique work, which is not public domain, and it's not OK for Wikipedia to use Nielsen's mappings without their permission. If Wikipedia had used a different organizational scheme for the same data (e.g. US Census metro areas), Nielsen likely wouldn't have had an issue with it.

    Please note I'm not trying to play apologist for Nielsen or the DCMA here--I'm not a huge fan of the DCMA or US definitions on what's "copyrightable." However, I do prefer looking at a case on it's individual merits to knee jerk "anyone using the DCMA must be evil!" arguments.

    • by DragonTHC (208439)

      it's public information. You can't really copyright that sort of info.

      That's like trying to copyright the constellations in the sky.

  • Mod me.... (Score:2, Insightful)

    Offtopic, perhaps, but if a categorization schema can be copyrighted and summarily suppressed by Neilsen in this way, with the switch to digital in progress in the U.S., what's to prevent somebody from copyrighting and similarly suppressing transmissions themselves based upon a particular encryption algorithm used in the act of transmission? Seems like it would set the stage for blanket censorship of the media at a fairly fundamental level, and that IS worrisome. At the very least, it could require vi
  • 1: Demand to see Nielson's copyright notice and sue them when it's not forthcoming.

    2: Wikileaks!

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