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Appeal Court rules against LIME in case with Digicel

BY PAUL HENRY Co-ordinator - Crime/Court Desk henryp@jamaicaobserver.com

Friday, December 27, 2013    

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TELECOMS giant Digicel has won one of its many legal tussles with chief rival Cable and Wireless Jamaica Ltd (LIME) in the local courts.

Last Friday, the Court of Appeal ruled that Cable & Wireless didn't have copyright of its directory listings. The ruling could result in Digicel increasing the size of its own phonebook (called Redbook), which is a steady revenue source.

Before the matter came to the Court of Appeal in 2011, CWJ, on May 3, 2005, filed a fixed-date claim form seeking a declaration from the Supreme Court that it owns the copyright and all related rights in its customer and directory database/listings.

The telecoms company sought the declaration two years after the Office of Utilities Regulation in 2003 introduced discussions of steps to liberalise access to related directory services and products which includes CWJ directory database.

The claimant has stated in court documents that access to its database — names, addresses, and phone numbers of subscribers — would, among other things, infringe its copyright in the database and information.

In response, Digicel filed a Notice of Application for Court Order on April 26, 2006, among other things, contesting the claimant's ownership of any such copyright or rights in the customer and directory database/listings.

But on January 5, 2011, the Supreme Court ruled against CWJ, declaring that the "Copyright Act does not accord, by way of copyright or related right, to facts or data comprised in its directory database/listings or at all"; and that the claimant's customer and directory database/listings do not qualify as original intellectual creations and as such are not protected by the Copyright Act.

CWJ subsequently appealed the Supreme Court's decision, arguing in court documents that the judge erred in law and/or misdirected himself as to the meaning to be given to the phrase intellectual creation as used in the Copyright Act.

"Having acknowledged that the term 'original' does not require original or inventive thought, the judge failed to recognise the distinction between an intellectual creation and a requirement for intellectual creativity and therefore fell into error by requiring originality of ideas in relation to the section and arrangement of the information," according to court documents.

"It is a well known principle and express provision of the Jamaican copyright law that it is not concerned with the originality of ideas, concept or processes. It would therefore be contrary to this principle to require originality in the method of selection or arrangement as a prerequisite for copyright protection."

The Court of Appeal is to give its reasons in writing for the ruling.

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