Our organization has a cyber threat intelligence server, which we use commercially. There are a number of feeds posted by various organizations or individuals which contain things like malicious IPs, phishing domains, etc which are meant to be used as blocklists. These are free and available to the public. However, in 9 cases out of 10 there is no explicit license attached, nor any explanation from the maker as to who is actually allowed to use the feed and for what purposes. Can we assume that we are allowed to use it? What steps could be taken to ensure it? Some of the owners of the feeds cannot be contacted despite several attempts. We are located in Canada.

  • 1
    The concept you are digging for appears to be the notion of an "implied license" which comes up often, for example, in the case of press releases used verbatim that don't expressly authorize copying even if that is the intent. I'm not up to speed enough on the law of implied license in copyright cases to give a full answer without a lot of research, however.
    – ohwilleke
    Jul 23 '20 at 7:36

In the USA, pure Information is not copyrightable since Feist Publications, Inc., v. Rural Telephone Service Co., 499 U.S. 340 (1991), in which the Supreme Court held (emphasis mine):

57 [...] The white pages do nothing more than list Rural's subscribers in alphabetical order. This arrangement may, technically speaking, owe its origin to Rural; no one disputes that Rural undertook the task of alphabetizing the names itself. But there is nothing remotely creative about arranging names alphabetically in a white pages directory. It is an age-old practice, firmly rooted in tradition and so commonplace that it has come to be expected as a matter of course. [...] It is not only unoriginal, it is practically inevitable. This time-honored tradition does not possess the minimal creative spark required by the Copyright Act and the Constitution.

58 [...] As a constitutional matter, copyright protects only those constituent elements of a work that possess more than a de minimis quantum of creativity. Rural's white pages, limited to basic subscriber information and arranged alphabetically, fall short of the mark. As a statutory matter, 17 U.S.C. § 101 does not afford protection from copying to a collection of facts that are selected, coordinated, and arranged in a way that utterly lacks originality.

A list of bad areas on the internet sorted by the IP is just another list that is similar to 'subscribers of Rural' and could be seen as lacking originality like the white pages of a phone book.

  • 5
    The kind of phone book white pages information rendered uncopyrightable by Feist is far more bare bones than the kind of multiple RSS feed type flow of information contemplated in the OP. I don't think that this fact pattern is sufficiently similar to be governed by this precedent. This might be mostly a compilation, but it is a compilation gathered with use of judgment and not just a comprehensive, indiscriminate list of IP addresses that don't have implied evaluations and judgments that go with them.
    – ohwilleke
    Jul 23 '20 at 7:40
  • Please note jurisdiction when posting these sort of answers - what isnt copyrightable in one jurisdiction might be copyrightable in another, for example compilation of facts.
    – user28517
    Aug 22 '20 at 10:55
  • 2
    @Moo I thought a US court number was enough, but added, also better quote.
    – Trish
    Aug 22 '20 at 15:21

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.