User and Contributor Manual
Many questions arise regarding the copyright status of mindat.org – different elements of this site are protected in different ways and for different reasons. This section attempts to explain what copyrights mindat.org is protected by, the reasoning behind those protections, as well as what you can and cannot do with data within this database.
Why copyright it at all? Why not make it freely available?
Mindat.org relies on user contributions to improve the quality of our database. When a mistake is spotted, it is corrected. Because we have one central 'master copy' and there are no other publicly available copies of this data, once a mistake is corrected, it is corrected for good. In the traditional world of print, if a mistake creeps into a book or a magazine, then it is there forever. If we allowed free use of our mindat.org database then we would see countless other copies of it available on the internet, on CD, and in print, each of which would be out of date almost the minute they are downloaded. We would no longer have a simple way to correct mistakes - once a mistake is copied and duplicated, we have lost control of it, and the mistake will be perpetuated forever. We need to protect the copyright of our database so that we can protect the integrity of the database and the integrity of the mindat.org name.
A secondary concern is to prevent other people from taking the mindat.org database, that we and and our many contributors have worked hard on, and using it for their own agenda (e.g. for commercial means).
Of course, mindat.org remains free for you to use, and access to data on the site remains free. We also have protections in place to ensure the permanence of the mindat.org database, which are described in more detail below.
The program code that was created to host and run the mindat.org database is the copyright of the Hudson Institute of Mineralogy. Portions of this code (primarily the CFORM system) remain the copyright of Jolyon Ralph and are used under license. Some other portions (such as the Phorum messageboard) use open-source software and are used subject to their own licenses and limitations.
Mineral and Location Data
Individual items of information (such as scientific data, or the name and location of a mineral locality) are regarded as facts rather than an artistic or technical creation – these cannot be copyrighted. This means you are free to use individual pieces of information in any way that you wish.
The database as a whole, however, is covered by database copyright. Inside the European Union, this is covered by directive 96/9/EC and others; similar laws exist in the US and other countries. These laws state that a database of information can be protected by copyright even if the individual component items of the database are primarily scientific facts – this is the same principle that does not allow individual words to be copyrighted, but when those words are placed in combination (as in a book, etc.) they can be.
The subject becomes more complicated when considering elements such as the descriptions of localities – in this perspective, the database as a whole is the copyright of mindat.org which contains elements that are either scientific facts (which are not copyrighted) or text created by contributors. Text contributed in the format of locality descriptions, etc., is often composed of multiple contributions by many authors over time often with edits of prior information - thus locality text likely cannot be claimed to be copyrighted by individual authors. However, text authored in the form of mindat.org articles that is the sole work of one or more authors in conjunction with one another could be.
Copyright of Photographs
For more information about member ownership of data, see the Ownership of Data section in Mindat.org Membership.