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?