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Historical Returns Data and Copyright
Old 10-06-2005, 08:43 AM   #1
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Historical Returns Data and Copyright

As I understand it, facts can't be copyrighted. So if such-n-such index had 1% return in 1975 I should be able to reproduce that information. Is that right? Even an entire returns history for any stock or index (stock, commodities, etc) should be reproducible, yes?

The freely-available Schiller data has been very popular to many around these parts. After seeing CDDB (before they turned into Gracenote), FreeDB, IMDb, Wikipedia and similar data sites with publicly gathered and contributed information it's occurred to me that we could probably recreate returns histories on all sorts of asset classes and specific assets for use in financial calculators.

I have some vague ideas on how to implement this on a website. I don't imagine myself researching many returns myself, but I imagine setting up a framework where return datums are offered and approved/disapproved by vote or caucus. Whatever the actual implementation, the idea is to have all points of data publicly reviewable and challengeable which should eventually produce an accurate, useful and free set of data in various forms useful for listing or plugging into a spreadsheet.

If this effort comes to pass and is even moderately successfull I presume people that sell such data will get their feathers ruffled. So my concern is any legal issues involved in such an effort. What is copyrightable and what is not? If data is not copyrightable it seems we should be able to purchase a report, enter the data and publish it in our form. Obviously if it gets that far consulting an attorney first would be advisable, but does anyone have insights to the legal or practical issues of gathering historical return data?
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Re: Historical Returns Data and Copyright
Old 10-06-2005, 10:54 AM   #2
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Re: Historical Returns Data and Copyright

I have absolutely NO legal background, so, you should probably ignore the following !

When posting the historical returns, the table probably needs labels. Like, S&P500, Nasdaq, etc.. I think those labels would be protected by Copyright. So, maybe you could post the numbers but not say what they're for ?
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Re: Historical Returns Data and Copyright
Old 10-06-2005, 12:00 PM   #3
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Re: Historical Returns Data and Copyright

The finished data set didn't appear as mannah from heaven, it was created by someone. The underlying historical information was scattered among many sources. I think Schiller allows free use, but there is no requirement that he do so. To boldy plagarize would likely lead to a legal letter.
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Re: Historical Returns Data and Copyright
Old 10-06-2005, 12:06 PM   #4
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Re: Historical Returns Data and Copyright

Here is the governments copyright website:

Lots of good information.


No more lawyer stuff, no more political stuff, so no more CYA

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Re: Historical Returns Data and Copyright
Old 10-06-2005, 06:00 PM   #5
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Re: Historical Returns Data and Copyright

What becomes interesting when you collect data, is when you reproduce the mistakes of the original supplier of the data. If you can correct those mistakes, it would be very hard for the original supplier to prove that it was taken from him. If you can't correct all the mistakes, I would think you could have problems.
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