/ Who owns route descriptions and other guidebook data?

This topic has been archived, and won't accept reply postings.
humptydumpty - on 23 Oct 2013
Not sure if this is a legal question or more an ethical question, but who owns the info in guidebooks?

My guess is that the route descriptions would come from either the original log of the routes (so legally at least, copyright would belong to the FA), or the guidebook author/editor would write his own description (so would own copyright).

Presumably topos are owned or licensed by the guidebook published; what about route names and grades?
remus - on 23 Oct 2013
In reply to humptydumpty: It's important to distinguish between information about a route and the description of the route.

Cold hard facts, like the grade and the fact that a certain route follows a certain line, can not be owned. I believe descriptions are generally taken to be artistic works and are thus copyrightable in the same way any book is copyrightable.

The same is true for topos. The information contained within is not owned, but the artistic element in designing and creating a topo means a particular topo is protected from plagiarism.
Dave Garnett - on 23 Oct 2013
In reply to remus:
> (In reply to humptydumpty) It's important to distinguish between information about a route and the description of the route.
>

Pretty much. There are rights to particular compilations and the typographical arrangement too.
duchessofmalfi - on 23 Oct 2013
This was discussed in detail some time ago - at least one thread on this subject was deleted by UKC I think because of the cross link with who owns the information in the UKC crag guide (much of which has been copied verbatim from guidebooks by various people and much of which has been contributed by the community). Of course much of the information in guide books to begin with was contributed by the community in the first place.

I can't recall the conclusion TBH I'm not sure one was ever reached.

The particular text is probably owned or at least (c) by the book publishers but as remus says the information is probably in the public domain.

I'm not sure I could imagine submitting a new route and then trying to get iffy if someone else used it in a guidebook but maybe it happens?
In reply to duchessofmalfi:
> This was discussed in detail some time ago - at least one thread on this subject was deleted by UKC I think because of the cross link with who owns the information in the UKC crag guide (much of which has been copied verbatim from guidebooks by various people and much of which has been contributed by the community). Of course much of the information in guide books to begin with was contributed by the community in the first place.

Blimey you are paranoid.

For everyone else who doesn't live in the same Cuckoo Conspiracy Theory world as this guy,...

.... no we didn't delete any thread about who owns the information in the UKC Logbook. We have always been completely open about it and have been happy to discuss the fact that we don't claim any ownership of route descriptions uploaded to UKC Logbooks.

Alan
IainRUK - on 23 Oct 2013
In reply to humptydumpty: There's only so many ways to desribe some routes though, different for longer mountain routes, but routes like in the peak.. how many ways can you say climb the corner...
humptydumpty - on 23 Oct 2013
In reply to IainRUK:

Maybe the adjectives are copyrighted?! "Boldly climb the obvious corner" etc
ByEek - on 23 Oct 2013
In reply to humptydumpty: There was a massive bun fight ages ago between the BMC and Rockfax. If my understanding is correct, some of the BMC guidebook writers (working for the love) alleged that Rockfax had copied route descriptions but also simply compiled their guides using the existing guidebooks of the time rather than the traditional method of checking every route by climbing it. Whether this is true or not doesn't really matter. I digress. Anyway, I believe that after spending money on various legal avenues, it was determined that you could classify a guidebook as a database of routes which in turn could be copyrighted but that any legal actions could bankrupt both the BMC and Rockfax. As a result, legal action was dropped.

As I say though, it doesn't matter. Rockfax shook up guidebook production in a very positive way and their selective guides definitely hit the mark for the people who buy them. Conversely, the BMC have also upped their game and it is reasonable to suggest that their definitive guides of the Peak are probably some of the best in the world.
In reply to ByEek:
> (In reply to humptydumpty) There was a massive bun fight ages ago between the BMC and Rockfax. If my understanding is correct, some of the BMC guidebook writers (working for the love) alleged that Rockfax had copied route descriptions but also simply compiled their guides using the existing guidebooks of the time rather than the traditional method of checking every route by climbing it. Whether this is true or not doesn't really matter. I digress. Anyway, I believe that after spending money on various legal avenues, it was determined that you could classify a guidebook as a database of routes which in turn could be copyrighted but that any legal actions could bankrupt both the BMC and Rockfax. As a result, legal action was dropped.
>
> As I say though, it doesn't matter. Rockfax shook up guidebook production in a very positive way and their selective guides definitely hit the mark for the people who buy them. Conversely, the BMC have also upped their game and it is reasonable to suggest that their definitive guides of the Peak are probably some of the best in the world.

In fairness to Chris, I really need to strongly dispute your initial statements above. You seem to be confusing different discussions here. There was never any dispute about who wrote the descriptions - Chris did.

My account of this same incident - http://www.rockfax.com/news/2007/11/08/reflections-on-the-guidebook-debate-of-2001/

Alan
duchessofmalfi - on 23 Oct 2013
In reply to Alan James - UKC and UKH:

Sorry - you're right the threads are still there

http://www.ukclimbing.com/forums/t.php?t=506939
http://www.ukclimbing.com/forums/t.php?t=511410
http://www.ukclimbing.com/forums/t.php?t=541362

I was sure something along these lines had been vanished!
The Pylon King on 23 Oct 2013
In reply to humptydumpty:

Only i am allowed to describe and do photo diagrams of my routes.
Dave Williams - on 23 Oct 2013
In reply to The Pylon King:
> (In reply to humptydumpty)
>
> Only i am allowed to describe and do photo diagrams of my routes.

Dear Mr Pylon King

Well, no argument there, but if you could delve in the PKLF archives and share some with me it'd be great! ;)

Yours sincerely

A (Currently Deprived) Guide Book Author

humptydumpty - on 25 Oct 2013
In reply to duchessofmalfi:

Thanks, look like very informative threads and should answer the question.
Offwidth - on 25 Oct 2013
In reply to Alan James - UKC and UKH:

I'd have to disagree with your disagreement. Some BMC guidebook workers have accused Chris of plagiarising route descriptions, especially in Lancs and the Peak District Moorland areas. Their accusations are unproved, and in your view unfair but they certainly made them.

Now if a student of mine produces text based work I use a software package called Turnitin where if the text is broadly copied with word changes it will still detect problems and produce a 'similarity score' that if exceeding a set limit we would use to run an investigation meeting with the student; and if good reasons for what happened were not produced a punishment would be determined based on the level of the problem (eg worse for a repeat offence). If we do something similar on climbing guidebooks based on short route descritions this could lead to unfairness in my opinion as much of the description form would likely be the same and they could both be based on a seperate independant FA description (you would need to set the trigger point on the similarity index much higher and beware of hidden permissions). You can as an experiment type route descriptions from guideboks through Turnitin and some do clearly showing worryingly high similarity scores (without obvious permissions but there could be reasons for this we dont know). In my student example we have the accusations but we are missing the investigation meeting and making the punishment fit the level of guilt.
In reply to Offwidth:
> I'd have to disagree with your disagreement. Some BMC guidebook workers have accused Chris of plagiarising route descriptions, especially in Lancs and the Peak District Moorland areas. Their accusations are unproved, and in your view unfair but they certainly made them.

Well I assumed he was referring to the PGE/BMC debate of 2001 when any accusations of plagiarism would be untrue since Chris was the original author of the text in both the books on either side of the debate - a frankly bizarre situation which shows how ridiculous that whole episode was.

As for other other accusations, you won't find it surprising that I disagree, but I really don't want too open that can of worms.

Alan
In reply to Offwidth:
>
>
> I'd have to disagree with your disagreement. Some BMC guidebook workers have accused Chris of plagiarising route descriptions, especially in Lancs and the Peak District Moorland areas. Their accusations are unproved, and in your view unfair but they certainly made them.
>

Disagree all you like, I'm telling you here and now that I didn't plagiarise the descriptions in the Lancashire, Kinder and Bleaklow and the Chew Valley guidebooks. Is that clear enough for you?


Chris
Offwidth - on 25 Oct 2013
In reply to Alan James - UKC and UKH:

In the case of PGE Chris wrote sections in that and the equivalent BMC guides and arguably the BMC may have inadvertantly plagiarised him subsequently.

I was involved on an investigation panel once which dealt with a ludicrous case where a student had been accused by some academics of plagiarising himself (impossible) when in fact he was almost certainly guilty of misrepresentation (saying the work he did was new work). We had to throw the case out and a cheat got away with it because some intelligent people are too willing to knee jerk accuse without thinking. I also met a senior manager who lost a case becasue he thought plagiarism meant the same thing as cheating in general and made a false accusation in a letter to the student (luckily so in that case, as that student was almost certainly innocent).
Offwidth - on 25 Oct 2013
In reply to Chris Craggs:

My disagreement was to do with the fact that such accusations were made, not that you did or didn't do anything. Your view in the matter was always clear to me.

You should have a play with Turnitin: it can prove broad innocence in such straight examples real easily (as well as provide indications of possible guilt that require investigation).
r0x0r.wolfo - on 25 Oct 2013
In reply to Chris Craggs:
> (In reply to Offwidth)
> [...]
>
> Disagree all you like, I'm telling you here and now that I didn't plagiarise the descriptions in the Lancashire, Kinder and Bleaklow and the Chew Valley guidebooks. Is that clear enough for you?
>
>
> Chris

Forgive my ignorance, in general, are these from the FA or does the guidebook writer/assistants write all of the descriptions?

Offwidth - on 25 Oct 2013
In reply to r0x0r.wolfo:

Depends. FA descriptions are increasingly unlikely to be used in modern guidebooks (unless they come with a topo) as they need to say clearly where the routes go (the guidebook uses the topo for most of that) and often the crag author/editor wants to add fair character with the description (which might look wrong from someone too enthusiatic with their own route).

I for one appreciate Chris improving the character of the writing in the peak district Rockfax guide route descriptions.
In reply to r0x0r.wolfo:
>
>
> Forgive my ignorance, in general, are these from the FA or does the guidebook writer/assistants write all of the descriptions?

I write all the descriptions in my books - and draw all the lines on the topos. The starting point is almost always a cragshot with a line marked on it, as that is what the climber will be using. The old textural descriptions of the sort "Start 10m left of the rock that looks like a beaver in the right light" are often largely irrelevant in modern guidebooks.


Chris

PS "an assistant" - that's an interesting idea!
r0x0r.wolfo - on 25 Oct 2013
In reply to Offwidth:
> (In reply to r0x0r.wolfo)
>
> Depends. FA descriptions are increasingly unlikely to be used in modern guidebooks (unless they come with a topo) as they need to say clearly where the routes go (the guidebook uses the topo for most of that) and often the crag author/editor wants to add fair character with the description (which might look wrong from someone too enthusiatic with their own route).
>
> I for one appreciate Chris improving the character of the writing in the peak district Rockfax guide route descriptions.

Fair enough. Just wondering.
Dave Garnett - on 25 Oct 2013
In reply to Alan James - UKC and UKH:

Just a general point that plagiarism is an academic offence of presenting someone else's work as your own. There may be literal copying but I think the crucial issue is misattribution. It's not usually a matter for the civil law of copyright infringement, which is basically about property and financial rights being infringed.
Offwidth - on 25 Oct 2013
In reply to Chris Craggs:

"PS "an assistant" - that's an interesting idea!"

You really don't mean that, how on earth could anyone write it all without assistants to climb stuff that is too easy or too hard (to get the feel right) or even belay you?

Anyhow, you can't seriously expect much sympathy for the genuinely hard work attached to your full time job when most of us do it for free :-O
Simon Caldwell - on 25 Oct 2013
In reply to r0x0r.wolfo:
> Forgive my ignorance, in general, are these from the FA or does the guidebook writer/assistants write all of the descriptions?

Speaking purely for myself, I always try to rewrite the descriptions from scratch, ideally after climbing the route or (if too hard) speaking to someone else who has. The exception is where new routes are reported to close to publication to check them properly, in which case I use the FA description.
Offwidth - on 25 Oct 2013
In reply to Dave Garnett:

Plagiarism is much wider than that (Wikipedia has it about right). It is NOT a crime but is punished in academia as a rule breach.
In reply to Chris Craggs:
> PS "an assistant"

Is that me or you Chris?

Joint guidebook assistants?


Alan
In reply to Alan James - UKC and UKH:
> (In reply to Chris Craggs)
> [...]
>
> Is that me or you Chris?
>
> Joint guidebook assistants?
>
>
> Alan

Well maybe you are my assistant and I'm yours?

Can you just nip up to Kinder and get me a new set of shots of the Downfall?

Cheers


Chris ;-)
In reply to Chris Craggs:
> Can you just nip up to Kinder and get me a new set of shots of the Downfall?

Ok, but in exchange can you use your delicate touch to deal with all the flak on the forums ;)

Alan
In reply to Alan James - UKC and UKH:
> (In reply to Chris Craggs)
> [...]
>
> Ok, but in exchange can you use your delicate touch to deal with all the flak on the forums ;)
>
> Alan

Let me at it!!!!

Chris

PS Might not be many users left when you get back ;-)
In reply to Chris Craggs:
> Let me at it!!!!
>
> Chris
>
> PS Might not be many users left when you get back ;-)

I might use that on Monday...

... look you lot, behave otherwise I'll let Craggsy do the moderating!
jcw on 25 Oct 2013
In reply to Offwidth: "Plagiarise Plagiarise, let no else work evade your eyes, but Plagiarise, Plagiarise Plagiarise. But please, always remember to call it Research" as Tom Lehrer put it.
Franco Cookson on 26 Oct 2013
In reply to humptydumpty:

Who owns the historical facts? 'so and so did this on this date'...
Offwidth - on 26 Oct 2013
In reply to Franco Cookson:

No one but sometimes they are not facts (disputed style or say in the case of easier grit claims over the last few decades, FA should really be FRA). Even when we are close someone will pop us and tell us his name should be first on something.

This topic has been archived, and won't accept reply postings.