There’s an intriguing story in Wired News about a lawsuit over ownership of neighborhood data. The original creator of the neighborhood polygon data, Bernt Wahl, is being sued by Maponics who bought the original dataset that Wahl created from the real estate company he created it for. Wahl has continued to sell the data, and has expanded his neighborhood mapping effort, even though the terms of the sale gave him just six months of sales. Wahl contends that nobody owns the definition of a neighborhood, but Maponics insists that the data is copyrighted and that they own the copyright.
It’s an intriguing case that gets muddied simply by the fact that it appears Wahl sold the rights to the data. I’m guessing that a judge will rule in favor of Maponics without any ruling on whether the definition of a neighborhood can be copyrighted. Does anyone know of any precedence that could help Wahl in his defense?