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Hotel Being Sued for Using the Dewey Decimal System 419

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the who-knew dept.
cbull writes "Did you know the Dewey Decimal System isn't in the public domain? The rights are owned by the Online Computer Library Center. They are suing the Library Hotel in New York for trademark infringement. In addition, according to the article, libraries pay at least $500/year to use the system."
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Hotel Being Sued for Using the Dewey Decimal System

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  • well damn! (Score:2, Funny)

    by flyneye (84093)
    i would like to copyright all the prime numbers.

  • This could be good (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Ryosen (234440) on Sunday September 21, 2003 @11:40AM (#7017690)
    Just one more reason to do away with an antiquated filing system.
    • by ahfoo (223186) on Sunday September 21, 2003 @11:57AM (#7017813) Journal
      No doubt. The DDC is such a pain in the ass when you're used to LOC. I am also suprised to find tht it's still being licensed. I thought the only people still using it were in countries that didn't want to submit to LOC guidelines because their own copyright laws were uhm, different.
      I know that's the case here in Taiwan. I was shocked to find major research universities using DDC and then when I began working with a publisher I learned that it had a lot to do with copyright and the LOC. In fact, I taught classes on using the LOC at one point for students preparing to go overseas.
      But personally I find the DDC obnoxious and far more of an obstacle to research than a helpful classification system.
      • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday September 21, 2003 @12:09PM (#7017886)
        Both Dewey and Library of Congress are "divide and conquer" stratergies - that is, you split the search space into smaller and smaller chunks until you find what you're looking for.

        This is an acceptable solution when you're searching on paper or your search sapce isn't that large, but today we have computers and far more data.

        For example, "Algorithms in C" is a classic text a lot of people here probably own.

        But does it belong under "math", "computer science", or "computer languages -> C"? (Dewey seperates Computing out into a seperate category, rather than placing it under math).

        The answer, of course, is all three.

        The ideal system would be a free-text search of all the books in the catalogue. But until we can do that, keywords and searchable abstracts are more useful than categories. Just put the damn books on the shelf in order of author.
        • by Jeremy Erwin (2054) on Sunday September 21, 2003 @12:28PM (#7017998) Journal
          Libraries are already strapped for cash--until an automated book retrieval system is developed, then the only way to fully implement your system would be to insert three copies into the stacks.

          Sometimes, libraries do place faux books on the shelf with instructions to the browser to "also consult this CDROM" but stacks loaded with these faux books would not be particularly easy to browse.

          My ideal library would let browsers borrow hand held electronic catalogues-- so that flashes of insight wouldn't need to be followed by a long trek back to the catalogs in the lobby.
        • by orthogonal (588627) on Sunday September 21, 2003 @12:32PM (#7018032) Journal
          The ideal system would be a free-text search of all the books in the catalogue.

          You make a very good point that a hierarchical system isn't suitable for cataloging. I have the same problem with my more than 6000 (all legally acquired) MP3s: Artists span Genres, Albums contain works by more than one Composer, Artists may appear in more than one Group/Band/Orchestra, etc.

          But free-text search isn't a great solution; we've all seen that with Google: I can find web pages about Apple MacIntosh and I can find pages about growing Apple MacIntoshes, but it's hard to separate the pages about computers from those about cookery.

          In these cases, an abstract is more useful than a full-text search.
          • +computer -tree -orchard +mouse .. c'mon, google isn't rocket science.
            • >>+computer -tree -orchard +mouse .. c'mon, google isn't rocket science.

              Yes, from a user's point of view. But just think about the implementation that makes those easy searches possible.

              Pretty impressive eh? Not exactly rocket science, but pretty darned close.

              wbs.
          • by TomV (138637)
            Free-text is a useful adjunct for testing relevance of your initial hits, but it's not a sound basis for a classification as such. The difficulty with Free Text is the lack / impossibility of a proper Thesaurus (in the librarian's sense of the word, a graph of authoritative terms, their synonyms *and* their relationships). Personally I'd like an underlying Faceted classification (fundamentally bottom-up rather than top-down / hierarchical), and then some controlled-vocabulary descriptors, plus othe indica
          • I can find web pages about Apple MacIntosh and I can find pages about growing Apple MacIntoshes, but it's hard to separate the pages about computers from those about cookery.

            Well, actually, I don't think it should be a problem in this case - the fruit is spelled McIntosh (no "a," both "M" and "I" capitalized). Of course you might still get pages about the computer intermingled with ones about raincoats (and none of this will be of much use to someone with the kind of free-and-easy, nonconformist approac

        • by Zoop (59907) on Sunday September 21, 2003 @12:50PM (#7018169)
          The ideal system would be a free-text search of all the books in the catalogue.

          No, no, no, no.

          What is needed is that PLUS exactly what you hinted at: faceted classification.

          Books can be arranged on the shelves by author or FILO or whatever, but they should be, in the age of computers, indexed by multiple heirarchical facets.

          Keywords and free-text searches are far too unreliable, even in the age of Google. If you're doing serious research, you can't rely on the first Google hit, you need to try several different methods. In fact, Google's methodology, ranking by weighted hyperlink popularity, wouldn't apply to books.

          What you need are a combination of faceted classification (like the subject entries in the cataloging software most libraries use) and free-text as well as abstract searching. Quite frankly, humans and the software they write are too stupid to classify everything well enough to use one system or another exclusively.
          • by Feztaa (633745)
            Google's methodology, ranking by weighted hyperlink popularity, wouldn't apply to books.

            Actually, it could. But instead of hyperlinks, it would use references/bibliographies. So if my book takes a quote from your book, that would have the same effect as a hyperlink on a website.

            Then, the most-quoted books would get the highest search results. If everybody is talking about your book, it could just be the one you're looking for :)
        • ``But does it belong under "math", "computer science", or "computer languages -> C"? (Dewey seperates Computing out into a seperate category, rather than placing it under math).

          The answer, of course, is all three.''

          ln /math/BookTitle /cs

          What? Your library does not support links? Don't tell me they use Windows... How do you mean ``The Real World doesn't support hard links''? What kind of operating system is that???

      • by TWX (665546)
        I never liked LOC, but I was taught Dewey. I could walk into a Dewey library that was properly signed (by number range) and find anything that I wanted, without having to consult the catalog. When I got to college, I had to deal with the college having three libraries, with different segments being in different buildings (ie, science library, law library) without being labelled as such in the catalog, only to get up and over to the section in the main library where the segment would be in order, to find a
    • So called intellectual property laws defeat the very purpose of communication. They are an abomination, and should be abolished.
    • by Scooter (8281) <owen.annicnova@force9@net> on Sunday September 21, 2003 @05:20PM (#7019831)
      I couldn't agree more - I mean come on guys - you can't copyright/patent counting. I don't claim to be an expert on the DD indexing "system" but I just read the "introduction" pdf and it seems to me to be a simple hierachical identifier, a lot like er.. IP addressing... And in what way is it "decimal" anyway? because it has "."'s between the numbers?!? Give it up guys. Here's Scooters semi-colon numbering system: you define a whole bunch of top level categories, and then some sub categories, and then some sub-sub-categories, and when you get bored of adding tiers, number the books. Write them down as a;b;c;d;....n. Great - now if any of you tea leafs start numbering things like that - I'll see you in court! :P

      I mean in this day and age surely some sort of tree structure would be better (and be easier to manipulate by machines). Each book has n number of attributes where n is bigger than 0. You can go on adding nodes of type attribute until the book is described uniqely. Or dammit - just index them by the ISBN and chuck in a whole bunch of keywords to search by..

      In other news, the estate of one Pythagoras is suing everyone for making the square of the hypotenuse on their triangles equal to the sum of the squares of the other two sides - the thieving swines! Pop-Idol on BBC2 next, after the weather.

  • by Martin Blank (154261) on Sunday September 21, 2003 @11:40AM (#7017691) Journal
    Next thing you know, someone's going to start charging for Linux.

    Oh, wait...
  • "At a minimum, if they want to continue to use it, there certainly has to be some sort of a license to the Library Hotel," he said. "We're not interested in putting the hotel out of business."

    ___P>

    I suppose ___P> is phonetics for foot-in-mouth ?
  • 340 (Score:4, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday September 21, 2003 @11:41AM (#7017707)
    Dewey Decimal for Law books. They're gonna need it.
    • PORN! (Score:3, Funny)

      by Malfourmed (633699)
      What's the Dewey number for porn [libraryhotel.com]?

      Whoops - they actually tell you [libraryhotel.com]: 800.001.

      That's gotta be a great come on line for those sexy-looking librarians: "Hey babe, interested in some 800.001?"

      Except that she'll probably come back with "Only in your 800.005."
  • Out of business (Score:5, Insightful)

    by larien (5608) on Sunday September 21, 2003 @11:43AM (#7017719) Homepage Journal
    We're not interested in putting the hotel out of business.
    Er, so why are you suing for "triple the hotel's profits since its opening or triple the organization's damages, whichever is greater"? Yes, they're willing to settle, but to be honest, the first line should have been a lawyer's letter, not filing a complaint. I can only assume that the lawyers can charge more for filing a complaint so they advised them to file rather than discuss.
    • ...you didn't read the article? they did send a couple of letters over a period of years.

      dumbass.
    • Re:Out of business (Score:5, Informative)

      by signe (64498) on Sunday September 21, 2003 @12:03PM (#7017850) Homepage
      Read the article first, please.

      The lawsuit said the center sent three letters to Kallan from October 2000 to October 2002, asking for acknowledgment of Online's ownership of the Dewey trademarks, but the hotel owner didn't respond.

      While I agree the hotel should pay the back licensing fees, I think this lawsuit is a little excessive. But given that they said letters were sent, it's probably just to get the hotel's attention. The OCLC even says at the bottom of the article that they're looking to settle, and they don't want the hotel to go out of business. They just want a licensing agreement.

      I've been to the Library Hotel. It's a really nice place. Yes, the books play an integral part in the ambiance of the hotel. But the use of the Dewey Decimal System is hardly the biggest thing they've got going for them, or the most important. They could easily drop the DDC classifications of the floors and rooms and the hotel would lose nothing by it.

      -Todd
      • I do not agree that the Hotel should pay anything. The talk about the system for 1800. The hotel shows the VERU highest level of system. The sub sections (ie room numbers) that not bases in the system.

        There is no Trademark infringement in my eyes. Just another greed company with it hands in every's one public pocket tring to justify its existance.

        My bet is if you wnet to corporate headquarters all you will find 75% unpaided A/R clerks.

        Maybe they should merge wth SCO.
      • While I agree the hotel should pay the back licensing fees

        No they shouldn't. This is exactly the kind of crap that shows why 'IP' is a bad idea. How can someone own the idea of classifying books by subject hierarchically?

        • Re:Out of business (Score:5, Insightful)

          by Meowing (241289) on Sunday September 21, 2003 @12:47PM (#7018143) Homepage
          One more time: The hotel isn't just using the classification system, it stole the trademark "Dewey Decimal" to advertise a profit-making business that uses the system. If Microsoft decided to rename its Services for Unix [microsoft.com] product to Linux.NET without getting Mr. Torvald's permission, would that be okay?
          • Re:Out of business (Score:3, Interesting)

            by King_TJ (85913)
            I think the main point of this whole discussion is to shock the majority of us into the realization that the "Dewey Decimal System" is, in fact, trademarked and NOT just a public domain concept for sorting of books.

            Quite frankly, I'm still a little shocked by this fact itself. Perhaps I shouldn't be, but I never heard of libraries actually paying yearly fees for the rights to use it, until now.

            Somehow, it just rings hollow - like someone telling me I'm not allowed to express computer notation in hexideci
        • Re:Out of business (Score:3, Insightful)

          by friedo (112163) *
          Sigh. Nobody owns "the idea of classifying books by subject hierarchically."


          OCLC owns their specific system. If you want to create your own subject hierarchy, be my guest.

  • School library (Score:5, Informative)

    by Leffe (686621) on Sunday September 21, 2003 @11:44AM (#7017727)
    Hmm... from what I've found out about DDC, it seems like my school library uses it.

    I really doubt they have a license. And there's no way to find out until tuesday... I can't wait!

    Oh, and here's a nice intro on DDC:

    http://www.oclc.org/dewey/versions/ddc22print/intr o.pdf [oclc.org]
    (Why is there a space between the 'r' and 'o'?)
  • Connections (Score:5, Insightful)

    by mopslik (688435) on Sunday September 21, 2003 @11:44AM (#7017730)

    From the article:

    "A person who came to their Web site and looked at the way (the hotel) is promoted and marketed would think they were passing themselves off as connected with the owner of the Dewey Decimal Classification system."

    Don't you think that a person browsing the website might just think "Oh, they're a theme hotel"?

    On the other hand, if libraries have to license it, then I guess that's how it works.

    • I think to connect the hotel with the owner of the Dewey Decimal Classification system, the average person would have to believe something this idiotic could still be licensable...
  • Trademarked? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by PipianJ (574459) on Sunday September 21, 2003 @11:44AM (#7017732)
    How can you trademark the Dewey Decimal System? Sounds more like a patentable system to me... So how did it get filed under the trademark category? (Nice to know they've registered it under the one class of IP which never expires as long as you pay. I mean, look, it says it was created in 1873!)
    • Re:Trademarked? (Score:3, Informative)

      by squiggleslash (241428)
      You can't trademark the system, but you can trademark "Dewey Decimal System". I assume that they're refering to the latter. They certainly can't trademark the system at all, because the system itself is based on numbers, and you can't trademark numbers. As Intel found out, hence the "Pentium" rather than the "80586".
    • Re:Trademarked? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by GnrcMan (53534) * on Sunday September 21, 2003 @11:57AM (#7017815) Homepage
      I think they trademarked the term "Dewey Decimal System". The objection isn't to the use of the system itself (even if it was patented, I doubt the patent would extend to hotel room clasification) it's that the website uses the term (or trademark) Dewey Decimal System all over it.
    • Re:Trademarked? (Score:2, Interesting)

      by BabyDave (575083)

      They can (and presumably have) trademarked the name "Dewey Decimal" as relating to classification systems. As for the system itself, I don't think trademarking or patenting apply (at least not now, as the patent would long since have expired). I'd presume that the particular system would be copyrighted, in that you can't use that system or one sufficiently similar to it without permission.

      Of course, if it were patented, we'd all be protesting about yet another damn silly patent - categorising books based

  • u can ask for the defendant's profits, our view is since we have written to these people three different times, it was certainly intentional and it was certainly


    we have no way of knowing until the discovery takes place how much their profits are


    Looks like a slashdot editor added that in... but what's up with the usage of "u" instead of "You"?
  • Question (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Hinkkanen (536643)

    Does this mean that I'll have to pay if organise my book collection according to Dewey system?
    • Re:Question (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Nevo (690791)
      Only if you call it a Dewey Decimal System organization, apparently. If you call it the Hinkkanen System, you're fine. :)
  • What have (Score:4, Funny)

    by Timesprout (579035) on Sunday September 21, 2003 @11:48AM (#7017755)
    Hewey and Lewey got to say about this ?
  • hah (Score:4, Funny)

    by yoshi1013 (674815) on Sunday September 21, 2003 @11:50AM (#7017765) Homepage
    "Excuse me, where can I find a book on astronomy?"

    "Don't you know the Dewey Decimal System????"

    CONAN THE LIBRARIAN!

  • LoC Classification (Score:3, Interesting)

    by EngrBohn (5364) on Sunday September 21, 2003 @11:51AM (#7017774)
    They really should use The Library of Congress' Classification [loc.gov] -- it's currently in use by (most?) libraries, and no one owns a trademark on it!
    • National pride will probably prevent countries other than the US from using a system that divides the history of the world into:

      D -- HISTORY (GENERAL) AND HISTORY OF EUROPE
      E -- HISTORY: AMERICA
      F -- HISTORY: AMERICA

      While I'm sure the LOC system works fine for the Library of Congress, it does not seem to be widely applicable enough to replace the Dewey Decimal Sysem around the world.

      Incidentally, I am shocked that use of the DDC requires royalties more than 100 years after its invention.
  • I don't get it... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Hortensia Patel (101296) on Sunday September 21, 2003 @11:51AM (#7017776)
    What "rights" are they talking about here? That is, what sort of IP is being licensed?

    Patents would make a sort of sense, but Dewy Decimal dates back to 1873, so it can't be a patent. Copyright doesn't seem to apply since there isn't obviously a "work" being copied.

    What gives? Is it just a matter of the trademark?
  • by tbase (666607) on Sunday September 21, 2003 @11:51AM (#7017777)
    According to this page, Melvil Dewey (1851-1931) anonymously published the system in 1876.

    On the other hand, it seems that the Online Compyter Library Center does do quite a bit of work to maintain the system, which should entitle them to some rights - but it sure seems that if some guy published something anonymously in 1876, he probably intended it to be in the public domain. Seems to me, if the hotel was based on the original system, and not the one improved by subsequent owners, he should be ok - especially if they referred to it as the "Melvil Dewey System" or something.

    I had no idea it was owned - how come they aren't going after the elementary schools that teach the system? Or is that included in their library's license? And how come we're teaching a proprietary, trademarked system? Next thing you know, they'll be teaching our kids Windows!!!
    • According to this page, Melvil Dewey (1851-1931) anonymously published the system in 1876.


      You'd think that it would be in the public domain by now, wouldn't you?
    • it sure seems that if some guy published something anonymously in 1876, he probably intended it to be in the public domain.

      Nope. Then, as now, there were provisions to leave one's name off a published work and still retain copyright. This is what Dewey did. He published it through a company he controlled.

      elementary schools that teach the system? Or is that included in their library's license?

      Yep. Training materials have long been a part of it.

      And how come we're teaching a proprietary, tradema

  • Bullshit (Score:5, Interesting)

    by rde (17364) on Sunday September 21, 2003 @11:51AM (#7017780)
    "A person who came to their Web site and looked at the way (the hotel) is promoted and marketed would think they were passing themselves off as connected with the owner of the Dewey Decimal Classification system."

    Yeah, right. If I was particularly jetlagged, drunk or whatever, I might pop up to the counter and ask to speak to Melvil Dewey. But I'm sure I'm not alone in that I never even considered that a numeric system invented in the next-to-previous century would still be owned today, much less that anyone who used it would be representative of that owner.

    It's lucky that I'm ambivalent about my primary school; when I was there, I organised the books according to the Dewey system. If I were at all bitter, I'd rat them out, and not just becuase the 098 section was completely empty.

    Oh, and here's something funny. In my research for this comment, I typed 'dewey 098' into google to see if it still meant what I thought it did.
    098 is for forbidden books. Now that you know that google for 'dewey 098' while you're feeling lucky.
  • Created in 1873? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by MunchMunch (670504) on Sunday September 21, 2003 @11:52AM (#7017783) Homepage
    Now hold on--The article itself states that "Melvil Dewey created the most widely used library classification system in 1873."

    Anything from before the 1920s should be in the public domain, even if nothing after that will ever go into the public domain. I mean, was there indeed some perpetual copyright clause slipped into some bill or another? How could anybody otherwise still own the rights to this?

    • Re:Created in 1873? (Score:3, Informative)

      by annodomini (544503)
      That's copyright you're thinking of. According to the article, they are suing for trademark infringement. Trademarks are perpetual; they last forever, as long as you don't allow them to be diluted. That's why companies like Warner Brothers sue their fans for having websites with Harry Potter in their domain name. They don't want there to be a chance of their trademark being diluted to the point where they no longer have control over it.
      • Interesting. I have a lot to learn.

        I found a convenient explanation [harvard.edu] (if anyone's interested) of trademark law, and you're indeed right.

        So-- the criteria to bypass trademark infringement seems to be the separation between descriptive and proper-name style usage. (The link uses "All Bran" as a protected trademark, but "all bran" as a description is not infringing.) It certainly doesn't satisfy the 'generic' provision, because you don't call systems of organization "Dewey Decimal Systems" in the same way

  • by JayBlalock (635935) on Sunday September 21, 2003 @11:53AM (#7017789)
    I'm not being some sort of commu-terrorist, I'm trying to figure this out. The Dewey system was invented in the 1870s. It's something around 130 years old. How can it POSSIBLY still have its rights tied up? I thought until around 1930 our Congress was still rational enough to see that having things going to the Public Domain was a good thing.
  • by ibmman85 (643041) on Sunday September 21, 2003 @11:53AM (#7017790) Homepage
    i like the erotica package detailed on their site.. sounds pretty good.. i dont think my girlfriend's parents would too much approve of us utilizing such facilities though and it probably costs more than the $2 that belongs to me. college. blah.
  • by Wohali (57372) on Sunday September 21, 2003 @11:54AM (#7017797) Homepage
    My alma mater [yale.edu] uses the Library of Congress system [tlcdelivers.com] for numbering its books. Sure, it's not quite as simple for children to understand (a letter code, followed by numbers, then more letters), and is copyrighted, but as far as I know it's royalty-free to use.
  • Even though the Dewey Decimal system is the most counterintuitive and idiotic system in the world. Seriously, any time I go to a library (which used to be a lot since during high school my bus dropped me off at the library about ten miles from my house, until i could drive to school and then I moved away to college). If I needed to research something I would look through the subject on the search computers (which were ancient but they worked and they had all the books in there categorized). Then I would scr
  • To sue or not to sue (Score:2, Interesting)

    by maizena (640458)

    I cannot understand why american companies are in this suing fury about copyright/trademark infringement.

    It is really sad to see the world of business going this way.

    They should try to look at it from a new angle and see the benefits they could have in a joint venture or by adopting a new business model.

  • by openbear (231388) on Sunday September 21, 2003 @12:02PM (#7017846)
    How on Earth did they pick the damages amount for this case?

    From the CNN [cnn.com] story ...

    "The complaint filed in U.S. District Court in Columbus seeks triple the hotel's profits since its opening or triple the organization's damages, whichever is greater, from the hotel's owner."

    "Dreitler said Saturday he and his client do not yet know the size of the hotel's profits. The center, based in Dublin, is willing to settle with the hotel's owners, he said."
    If this does not scream frivolous lawsuit (or lottery ticket lawsuit) then I don't know what does. I thought if you were suing someone for "damages" that you had pick an amount, not just claim "triple whatever is going to get me the most money".

    This is more proof that the legal system in the US is severely broken and abused.

  • Oh good grief (Score:4, Interesting)

    by SolemnDragon (593956) <solemndragonNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Sunday September 21, 2003 @12:03PM (#7017853) Homepage Journal
    I spent three years working in a library and learning the dewey decimal system. Three guesses how my home media are organised. (No, not by Soviet Russia or by Natalie Portman, who let you guys in here, anyway?) By dewey decimal, of course. And now i have to think about how much i really want to keep this system... i don't hold with the idea of having to license something so overwhelmingly widely used. (and i wasn't aware that our library paid a license fee. (In fact, i don't remember that in our expenses at all, which makes me wonder whether it fell under 'miscellaneous,' or whether our relatively-new library simply failed to bother...) either way, i feel that the system should be free (as in beer) because it's... a filing system used primarily by nonprofit entities, and of course that's only my fond wish, but i'm hoping that the next system will be free. Otherwise- Hold on while i go patent the alphabet as a filing system. And copyright it. Every keyboard company will be paying me money... heh heh heh....

    oke. Back to subject. This leads me to the next question. How much sense does it make to make libraries pay for one more thing? And will the next step be to raise this license fee? Most libraries are struggling along as it is, so i hope not. There isn't enough storage and there isn't enough funding, and it drives me crazy to see book sales held sometimes, in those cases where it's just because there's no way to maintain the full shelves.

    Let me rephrase this. Most libraries are non-profit entities. Five bucks a year isn't a lot of money, but it's money being charged for a standard system that would take a lot of time and effort to shift away from. Maybe derivative works should be allowed; if a hotel is using it for anything other than books, maybe it should be hailed as an innovative way to make people more aware of the system itself. But i'm willing to accept that the system 'owners' may have the legal right to collect... it's the obsessive nature of this particular instance that bothers me. *shrug* i could be way off-base.

    So... the most important point here, i think, is: What's a better way? And how can we make it free to libraries and other non-profits?

    • Re:Oh good grief (Score:5, Informative)

      by Meowing (241289) on Sunday September 21, 2003 @12:21PM (#7017954) Homepage
      and i wasn't aware that our library paid a license fee. (In fact, i don't remember that in our expenses at all, which makes me wonder whether it fell under 'miscellaneous,' or whether our relatively-new library simply failed to bother...)

      It's sort of a hidden fee. The DDC book costs about $400, new edition every 3 years or so.

      Note though, that the hotel isn't being sued for using the classification system, but for infringing on the Dewey trademark for commercial purposes.

  • "dear dewey guys"

    we have immediately stopped using your system... but much to our horror and dismay, people keep putting the books right back where they got them from. if you would like us to mess em up a bit, let us know.
  • This is absurd. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by An Onerous Coward (222037) on Sunday September 21, 2003 @12:04PM (#7017858) Homepage
    Even if the complaint was reasonable, the damages being sought are beyond absurd. Triple the profits the hotel has made since it opened? First, I can't imagine how the OCLC was damaged beyond the loss of revenue they would have gotten from a license. Second, I can't imagine that every cent of profit the hotel made over the last three years was a direct result of their use of the Dewey Decimal system. Perhaps some of it came from, I dunno, being conveniently placed in the middle of New York?

    It would only make sense that they should have to prove that every customer who stayed there wouldn't have were it not for their use of the Dewey Decimal system.

    It sounds like this non-profit actually serves a useful purpose, but I really hope that if this goes to court, their damages get capped at around $4500 (triple the money the hotel saved by not buying a license).
  • by ExRex (47177) <[elliot] [at] [ajoure.net]> on Sunday September 21, 2003 @12:18PM (#7017938) Homepage

    The suit is for trademark infringement, not copyright or patent infringement.

    In the U.S. Trademark rights can be held indefinitely by the registrant, or it's successors in interest as in this case, with timely filing of required paperwork and paying of appropriate fees.

    What I find amusing is that the designer's of the hotel clearly did not do their homework. The research branch of the New York Public Library doesn't even use the Dewey system. It uses the Library of Congress categories. Here's the NYPL's online catalog. [nypl.org] I guess the designer's went into the Library to look at the architecture, but didn't actually bother to call for a book, or even check the catalog. Had they, they wouldn't be in this pickle.

  • I had no idea Dewey Decimal system was copyrighted. I also have no opinion on this lawsuit. However, I don't understand the outrage being directed at the maintainers of the system for charging to maintain it. I bet it takes money to maintain the Dewey Decimal system. Libraries benefit from Dewey. Ergo, libraries should pay to maintain it. Am I missing something? $500 is not a lot of money for just about any library.

    Who do you suggest pay to maintain the system and catlog the works-- a governmnet entity, or

  • If you read the article you will see it was filed by Frank Chetum of the law firm:

    Dewey, Chetum & Howe, PLLC

  • The problem with this suit is that the people who maintain and add to the system are almost all employed by publicly funded institutions and are public employees.

    They already get paid through taxes for this work.

    They're trying to double dip here.

  • You can't buy publicity like this. Here we have a small hotel who have managed to get world-wide publicity for whatever it will cost to settle this suit.

    How many of us had heard of this hotel before today? Not only do they have publicity, but they have good publicity -- they're the 'victim'. Doesn't get any better than this.

    (I wonder how willing a bank would be to offer a business a short term loan to cover legal expenses in light of the future increase in business.)

  • One reson that the DDC hasn't entered the Public Doman yet is that the ownrs kep puting out a new "verzon" every year or so. This is necesary from a clasification standpoint in that new things are neding to be clasified (in Dewey's day, it was a bit hard to imagin computer softwar neding to be put in a library). But it does mean that every tim a new version is published, it is given a seperat copyrit (since the content realy is diferent). A rough overview of the system can be sen her: http://www.tnrdlib.bc
  • LOC? (Score:3, Informative)

    by sootman (158191) on Sunday September 21, 2003 @12:25PM (#7017977) Homepage Journal
    At my college (CSU, Chico) the library uses the Library of Congress system. Anyone know if that is free? If it originated with the taxpayer-supported US Gov, I would think it should be free.
  • "Melvil Dewey created the most widely used library classification system in 1873. Each of 10 main categories, such as social sciences, mathematics or the arts, has thousands of subcategories, designated by decimal points.

    This Dewey decimal system is 130 years old! HOW IN HELL is trhere still a valid copyright on something THAT old??

    This is INSANE!!!!
  • Notice this question the report starts with? "Did you know the Dewey Decimal System isn't in the public domain?"

    If the public thinks dewey is public then the trademark suit fails. In order to have a valid trademark it has to be recognized in trade. Essentially the same thing happened to unix, although AT&T basically just gave up rather than continuing to press the issue. (I make a point of never capitalizing unix except at the beginning of a sentence.)
  • Case summary (Score:4, Informative)

    by danila (69889) on Sunday September 21, 2003 @02:45PM (#7018970) Homepage
    Initially I read the Slashdot comments only and was under the impression that the DDC's lawsuit may have some merit. But after visiting the hotel's site I was completely fucking outraged at the American IP legal climate...

    Here is what I found. The hotel uses something which very much resembles the original DDC classification, which is in public domain. As the site states, "Each of the ten guestroom floors of the Library is dedicated to one of the ten major categories of the Dewey Decimal System: Social Sciences, Literature, Languages, History, Math & Science, General Knowledge, Technology, Philosophy, The Arts and Religion. Each of the sixty exquisitely appointed accommodations have been individually adorned with a collection of art and books relevant to one distinctive topic within the category of floor [libraryhotel.com] it belongs to.".

    It's simply fucking insane that DDC is suing the hotel for that. I mean, WTF?! They claim trademark infridgement? They use the basic classification which is probably the same as original one, created 130 years ago and is now in public domain. If they use it, they are completely within their rights to call it "Dewey Decimal System" because that's what it is. And it's not like the hotel is in any competition with DDC. Nor any customers will be confused that the hotel is somehow affiliated with DDC. Stupid lawsuit and the whole concept of IP should be trashed. It's long overdue.
    • Re:Case summary (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Frobnicator (565869)

      The hotel uses something which very much resembles the original DDC classification, which is in public domain. As the site states

      Good so far...

      They use the basic classification which is probably the same as original one, created 130 years ago and is now in public domain. If they use it, they are completely within their rights to call it "Dewey Decimal System" because that's what it is.

      Nope. The company OCLC owns a bunch of tradmarks on the Dewey Decimal Classification System as well as other names

      • Re:Case summary (Score:3, Insightful)

        by danila (69889)
        In this case, the hotel is using a trademark of OCLC, and it is just as clear-cut as if you were to start selling Twinkies and Ding-Dongs.

        Yes, it's completely clear-cut. The hotel is totally within their rights to call the system by its name. If they sell Smirnoff vodka in their bar, they can call it "Smirnoff". If they have CNN showing on a TV in the hall they can call it "CNN". If they have XBoxes in rooms, they can call them "XBoxes". And if they happen to use DDC for classification, they have the righ

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