Monday, August 18, 2014

Celebrity Height Index

Dear Rich: I've created a list in ascending height of interesting athletes, celebrities, and historical figures. Here are some examples of figures on the list: George Washington, Peyton Manning, Marilyn Monroe, Albert Einstein, etc. I've also included some well known literary characters such as Dobby from Harry Potter and Oompa Loompa from Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. All told, my list consists of 42 different figures ranging in height from 3' to 6 1/2' I'm printing the list on a wall decal and plan to sell it in toy stores for children to measure their height against. Do I need permission from each height entrant before I can include them on the list? Can I copyright the list so others can't recreate it? You don't need permission from celebrities to list their names and heights. Permission is not needed for "informational" uses -- for example, posting sports figures and their stats at a website. You would need permission for photos that are not in the public domain.
Can you stop others from copying your list? If it's just a list of names and heights, you probably can't stop others from copying. Facts such as height measurements are not protected under copyright ad compilations of facts may be protected if the choice and collection demonstrates substantial creativity. We can't say for sure whether your chart qualifies, but the Supreme Court has ruled that alphabetic listings don't merit protection so we doubt whether numeric charts qualify. Still, compilation protection is complicated and we could be wrong so you may as well include a copyright notice and pursue registration. Of course, you can always protect original graphic imagery included with your chart.