Legal Question in Technology Law in Colorado

Are job postings copyrightable?

I am trying to find some resources to my question. If a job is posted on a web site is that as copyrightable. Can it be posted on a other web sites if it is posted for free? I am only referring to job postings and notheing else.

Asked on 9/28/99, 5:56 pm

2 Answers from Attorneys

Gerry Elman Elman Technology Law, P.C.

Re: Are job postings copyrightable?

Under U.S. copyright law the expression in a work of authorship is protected. If a "job posting" has enough words to constitute protected expression (and generally the answer is YES) then its author owns the copyright to it. U.S. copyright law also provides for something called a "compilation" copyright. Some BBS-type services have claimed that even though they do not own a copyright in each individual posting, they do own a separate copyright in the compilation of ALL (or a significant subset) of such postings.

If you are planning to create a site or publication that reproduces job postings from other sources, I recommend that you consult an attorney knowledgable about copyright and this field and discuss your specific plans with him or her. There are likely to be strategies that would permit you to accomplish some or all of what you want to do while minimizing risks of violating others' rights. But it would be undesirable to try to devise such strategies without confidential legal advice.

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Answered on 9/28/99, 8:26 pm

Re: Are job postings copyrightable?

"In the land of the blind, the one-eyed man is king." When I worked at a consulting company and thought I didn't know enough to call myself an expert, the President would make that statement to assure me (and others) that what we knew was more than what our clients knew (which was true) and we shouldn't be too humble about it.

So saying, while denying great expertise in this area, resting on the laurels of one post-graduate level course on the subject of Intellectual Property (Trademark, Patents, Copyright) at a relatively prestigious law school, I'd call myself a guesser but one who has at least taken one more course than you!

(Phew, that was a long 'caveat', but who's paying me to be efficient?)

My guess: the contents of an average job posting is probably not worthy of copyright by the average third-party poster of that copyright; it might have sufficient originality and meat to be copyrighted by the true author, which is generally the company who has the job, and it would probably be that company that owns the copyright, and they would in many cases be glad to have additional publicity for their job opening (though not always!).

All that is my opinion about a single job posting. But if you take a whole bunch from one source, it's called a compilation, and if there's sufficient originality in the selection of and arrangement of the group of (perhaps otherwise uncopyrightable) job postings, that compilation is itself copyrightable. Telephone books come to mind; there's no creativity in listing phone numbers with names normally, but if you make a phone book of Russian immigrants only in alphabetical order by the Russian alphabet, ... you own the copyright in that work.

Now, let me ask you something and please respond directly to me at my e-mail address: what's your actual plan? Do you want to republish your favorite selection from's listings on your own site? (Do they give the company names and phone numbers?) Or are you planning to pick directly from the hiring firm's listings and make your own compilation? (The latter sounds like a half-decent business plan!) Once you tell me, I can give you a better idea of the legality of it.

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Answered on 9/28/99, 10:15 pm

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