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Follow Up On Facets. Posted on 09/26/2001.

In the comments thread for "Innovation in Classification," Lou pointed out that Epicurious utilizes faceted classification. Silly me, I had forgotten about this organization, which was written up by Prof. Marti Hearst in this great paper: Next Generation Web Search: Setting Our Sites. The facets are used to support browse here.

And, finally, I find it fascinating how Best Cellars has copywritten the elements of their classification. If I read it right, others could use the "style" facet in describing their wines, and even the values--they just couldn't use the image or the words used to provide context.

Can facet classifications by protected by copyright? Does anyone know? There was a thread about it on SIGIA-L a while back.

5 comments so far. Add a comment.

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I think Best Cellars answers the copyright question on their about page where they state, "That's why we say the idea for Best Cellars didn't come from us. It came from you." If it came from me I should own the copyright.

In a sense facetted classification comes from understanding the user in a very broad way. A site or organization will have many user types often using different vocabularies to describe similar items. The attempt of a facetted approach is to join these various understandings in mutually understood terms of the components that comprise the larger term. If I understand my trademark and copyright law, general terms can not be trademarked (okay should not be, as in "one-click" this). If the organization is trying to trademark a term that is not their own and is germane to the public's general vocabulary or a generally recognized industry term the trademarking task would be a difficult one. This would make trademarking "complex" as a term to discribe wine a difficult task, but should leave open "obtuse" or "wonky" as they are not industry terms nor general public terms for discribing wine.

Best Cellars, however, is only copyrighing the images tied with the facets of fizzy, et al. They have trademarked "GREAT WINES FOR EVERY DAY", which I know preexisted their stores by at least a decade. They are attempting to trademark "YOU KNOW WHAT YOU LIKE" and "WE KNOW WINE", which seems to be inane, or an attempt to prove those granting trademarks inane.
Posted by vanderwal @ 09/27/2001 05:24 AM PST [link to this comment]

Any classification system can be protected by copyright. For example, CPT (Current Procedural Terminology) is the standard classification system used by hospitals and insurers for documenting outpatient procedures. This classification system is copyright the AMA, and they vigorusly defend their resulting monopoly.
Posted by dchase @ 09/27/2001 07:17 AM PST [link to this comment]

A thesaurus/taxonomy can be copyrighted because it is an intellectual representation of a body of knowledge. That representation itself is an intellectual asset.
Posted by Madonnalisa @ 09/27/2001 12:16 PM PST [link to this comment]

I've got something better than Epicurious. Why don't you visit I reviewed this site for a magazine a long time back and their recipe finder is absolutely wonderful. You can select from type of dish, cuisine, ingredients, and cooking method on the same screen. Very convenient indeed. I often look up recipes there.
Posted by Madhu Menon @ 09/28/2001 10:29 AM PST [link to this comment]

Shouldn't that be "Best Cellars has copyrighted the elements of their classification"?
Posted by Nitpicker @ 09/28/2001 10:43 AM PST [link to this comment]

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