Who Can Own A Fact?

As the US Congress struggles to find a reasonable way to update copyright law for the digital age, an alarming possibility has emerged. A draft bill known as the Database and Collections of Information Misappropriation Act is designed to allow companies which collect and disseminate data (online search engines like Google, say) to protect their product from being copied. “But critics say the bill would give the companies ownership of facts – stock quotes, historical health data, sports scores and voter lists. [If that’s true, t]he bill would restrict the kinds of free exchange and shared resources that are essential to an informed citizenry.”