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BellSouth Advertising & Publishing Corp. v. Donnelley Information Publishing, Inc., 999 F.2d 1436 (1993)


Copyrightable material - yellow pages


Publisher of classified business directory brought action against competitor to recover for copyright and trademark infringement and unfair competition. Competitor counterclaimed for violation of federal and state antitrust statutes.


Found that competitor infringed copyright. Competitor appealed. The Court of Appeals, 933 F.2d 952, affirmed. Rehearing was granted and opinion was vacated


Did the defendant take copyrightable work?





The Court of Appeals, Birch, Circuit Judge, held that competitor copied no original element of selection, coordination, or arrangement by copying name, address, telephone number, business type, and unit of advertisement for each listing in publisher's directory.



Marketing techniques employed by publisher of classified business directory (yellow pages) to generate listings were not acts of authorship and, therefore, were not protected by copyright laws. Arrangement and coordination of classified business directory (yellow pages) was not original, merged with idea of business directory, and, therefore, could not be copyrighted, even though publisher could have arranged headings according to number of advertisers or could have listed subscribers under each heading according to length of time for which that subscriber had appeared under heading; arrangement and coordination were entirely typical for business directory.


Two issues in every copyright infringement case:

  1. was the work copyrightable? (102)
  2. even if it was copyrightable, what the defendant took, did they take original expression that was in that copyrightable subject matter?