Argued Jan. 9, 1991.
                          Decided March 27, 1991.

                               CASE SYLLABUS

 (The syllabus is not a of the opinion of the Court but has been prepared by the          
  Reporter of Decisions for the convenience of the reader)

 Respondent Rural Telephone Service Company, Inc., is a certified public
 utility providing telephone service to several communities in Kansas.  Pursuant
 to state regulation, Rural publishes a typical telephone directory, consisting
 of white pages and yellow pages.  It obtains data for the directory from
 subscribers, who must provide their names and addresses to obtain
 telephone service.  Petitioner Feist Publications, Inc., is a
 publishing company that specializes in area-wide telephone directories covering
 a much larger geographic range than directories such as Rural's.  When Rural
 refused to license its white pages listings to Feist for a directory covering
 11 different telephone service areas, Feist extracted the listings it needed
 from Rural's directory without Rural's consent.  Although Feist altered many of
 Rural's listings, several were identical to listings in Rural's white pages.
 The District Court granted summary judgment to Rural in its copyright
 infringement suit, holding that telephone directories are copyrightable.  The
 Court of Appeals affirmed.

 Held:  Rural's white pages are not entitled to copyright, and therefore
 Feist's use of them does not constitute infringement.  Pp. 1287-1297.

 (a) Article I, s 8, cl. 8, of the Constitution mandates originality as a
 prerequisite for copyright protection.  The constitutional requirement
 necessitates independent creation plus a modicum of creativity.  Since facts do
 not owe their origin to an act of authorship, they are not original and, thus,
 are not copyrightable.  Although a compilation of facts may possess the
 requisite originality because the author typically chooses which facts to
 include, in what order to place them, and how to arrange the data so that
 readers may use them effectively, copyright protection extends only to those
 components of the work that are original to the author, not to the facts
 themselves.  This fact/expression dichotomy severely limits the scope of
 protection in fact-based works.  Pp. 1287-1290.

  (b) The Copyright Act of 1976 and its predecessor, the Copyright Act of 1909,
 leave no doubt that originality is the touchstone of copyright protection in
 directories and other fact-based works.  The 1976 Act explains that copyright
 extends to "original works of authorship," 17 U.S.C. s 102(a), and that
 there can be no copyright in facts, s 102(b).  A compilation is not
 copyrightable per se, but is copyrightable only if its facts have been
 "selected, coordinated, or arranged in such a way that the resulting work as a whole   
 constitutes an original work of authorship."  s 101.  Thus, the statute envisions that     
 some ways of selecting, coordinating, and arranging data are not sufficiently original   
 to trigger copyright protection. Even a compilation that is copyrightable receives only   
 limited protection, for the copyright does not extend to facts contained in the              
 compilation.  s 103(b).  Lower courts that adopted a "sweat of the brow" or                
 "industrious collection" test--which extended a compilation's copyright protection         
 beyond selection and arrangement to the facts themselves--misconstrued the 1909     
 Act and eschewed the fundamental axiom of copyright law that no one may copyright
 facts or ideas.  Pp. 1290-1295.

 (c) Rural's white pages do not meet the constitutional or statutory
 requirements for copyright protection.  While Rural has a valid copyright in
 the directory as a whole because it contains some forward text and some
 original material in the yellow pages, there is nothing original in Rural's
 white pages.  The raw data are uncopyrightable facts, and the way in which
 Rural selected, coordinated, and arranged those facts is not original in any
 way.  Rural's selection of listings--subscribers' names, towns, and telephone
 numbers--could not be more obvious and lacks the modicum of creativity
 necessary to transform mere selection into copyrightable expression.  In fact,
 it is plausible to conclude that Rural did not truly "select" to publish its
 subscribers' names and telephone numbers, since it was required to do so by
 state law.  Moreover, 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.  Pp. 1295-1297.

 > 916 F.2d 718 (CA 10 1990), reversed.


                         THE OPINION OF THE COURT

  O'CONNOR J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which REHNQUIST,
  joined.  BLACKMUN, J., concurred in the judgment.
  Kyler Knobbe, Cimarron, Kan., for petitioner.
  James M. Caplinger, Jr., Topeka, Kan., for respondent.
  Justice O'CONNOR delivered the opinion of the Court.


 This case requires us to clarify the extent of copyright protection available
 to telephone directory white pages.


 Rural Telephone Service Company, Inc., is a certified public utility that
 provides telephone service to several communities in northwest Kansas.  It is
 subject to a state regulation that requires all telephone companies operating
 in Kansas to issue annually an updated telephone directory.  Accordingly, as a
 condition of its monopoly franchise, Rural publishes a typical telephone
 directory, consisting of white pages and yellow pages.  The white pages list in
 alphabetical order the names of Rural's subscribers, together with their towns
 and telephone numbers.  The yellow pages list Rural's business subscribers
 alphabetically by category and feature classified advertisements of various
 sizes.  Rural distributes its directory free of charge to its subscribers, but
 earns revenue by selling yellow pages advertisements.

 Feist Publications, Inc., is a publishing company that specializes in area-
 wide telephone directories.  Unlike a typical directory, which covers
 only a particular calling area, Feist's area-wide directories cover a much
 larger geographical range, reducing the need to call directory assistance or
 consult multiple directories.  The Feist directory that is the subject of this
 litigation covers 11 different telephone service areas in 15 counties and
 contains 46,878 white pages listings--compared to Rural's approximately 7,700
 listings.  Like Rural's directory, Feist's is distributed free of charge and
 includes both white pages and yellow pages.  Feist and Rural compete vigorously
 for yellow pages advertising.

 As the sole provider of telephone service in its service area, Rural
 obtains subscriber information quite easily.  Persons desiring telephone
 service must apply to Rural and provide their names and addresses;  Rural then
 assigns them a telephone number.  Feist is not a telephone company, let alone
 one with monopoly status, and therefore lacks independent access to any
 subscriber information.  To obtain white pages listings for its area-wide
 directory, Feist approached each of the 11 telephone companies operating in
 northwest Kansas and offered to pay for the right to use its white pages

 Of the 11 telephone companies, only Rural refused to license its listings to
 Feist.  Rural's refusal created a problem for Feist, as omitting these listings
 would have left a gaping hole in its area-wide directory, rendering it less
 attractive to potential yellow pages advertisers.  In a decision subsequent to
 that which we review here, the District Court determined that this was
 precisely the reason Rural refused to license its listings.  The refusal was
 motivated by an unlawful purpose "to extend its monopoly in telephone service
 to a monopoly in yellow pages advertising."   Rural Telephone Service Co. v.
 Feist Publications, Inc., 737 F.Supp. 610, 622 (Kan.1990).

 Unable to license Rural's white pages listings, Feist used them without
 Rural's consent.  Feist began by removing several thousand listings that fell
 outside the geographic range of its area-wide directory, then hired personnel
 to investigate the 4,935 that remained.  These employees verified the
 data reported by Rural and sought to obtain additional information.  As a
 result, a typical Feist listing includes the individual's street address;  most
 of Rural's listings do not.  Notwithstanding these additions, however,
 1,309 of the 46,878 listings in Feist's 1983 directory were identical to
 listings in Rural's 1982-1983 white pages.  App. 54 (P 15-16), 57.  Four of
 these were fictitious listings that Rural had inserted into its directory to
 detect copying.

 Rural sued for copyright infringement in the District Court for the District
 of Kansas taking the position that Feist, in compiling its own directory, could
 not use the information contained in Rural's white pages.  Rural asserted that
 Feist's employees were obliged to travel door-to-door or conduct a telephone
 survey to discover the same information for themselves.  Feist responded that
 such efforts were economically impractical and, in any event, unnecessary
 because the information copied was beyond the scope of copyright protection.
 The District Court granted summary judgment to Rural, explaining that "[c]ourts
 have consistently held that telephone directories are copyrightable" and citing
 a string of lower court decisions.  663 F.Supp. 214, 218 (1987).  In an
 unpublished opinion, the Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit affirmed "for
 substantially the reasons given by the district court."  App. to Pet. for Cert.
 4a, judgt. order reported at  916 F.2d 718 (1990).  We granted certiorari,
 498 U.S. 808, 111 S.Ct. 40, 112 L.Ed.2d 17 (1990), to determine whether the
 copyright in Rural's directory protects the names, towns, and telephone numbers
 copied by Feist.


 This case concerns the interaction of two well-established
 propositions.  The first is that facts are not copyrightable;  the other, that
 compilations of facts generally are.  Each of these propositions possesses an
 impeccable pedigree.  That there can be no valid copyright in facts is
 universally understood.  The most fundamental axiom of copyright law is
 that "[n]o author may copyright his ideas or the facts he narrates."
 Harper & Row, Publishers, Inc. v. Nation Enterprises, 471 U.S. 539, 556,
 105 S.Ct. 2218, 2228, 85 L.Ed.2d 588 (1985).  Rural wisely concedes this point,
 noting in its brief that "[f]acts and discoveries, of course, are not
 themselves subject to copyright protection."  Brief for Respondent 24.  At the
 same time, however, it is beyond dispute that compilations of facts are within
 the subject matter of copyright.  Compilations were expressly mentioned in the
 Copyright Act of 1909, and again in the Copyright Act of 1976.
 There is an undeniable tension between these two propositions.  Many
 compilations consist of nothing but raw data--i.e., wholly factual information
 not accompanied by any original written expression.  On what basis may one
 claim a copyright in such a work?  Common sense tells us that 100
 uncopyrightable facts do not magically change their status when gathered
 together in one place.  Yet copyright law seems to contemplate that
 compilations that consist exclusively of facts are potentially within its

 The key to resolving the tension lies in understanding why facts are
 not copyrightable.  The sine qua non of copyright is originality.  To qualify
 for copyright protection, a work must be original to the author.  See:
 Harper & Row, supra, at 547-549, 105 S.Ct., at 2223-2224.  Original, as the
 term is used in copyright, means only that the work was independently created
 by the author (as opposed to copied from other works), and that it possesses at
 least some minimal degree of creativity.  1 M. Nimmer & D. Nimmer, Copyright ss
 2.01[A], [B] (1990) (hereinafter Nimmer).  To be sure, the requisite level of
 creativity is extremely low;  even a slight amount will suffice.  The vast
 majority of works make the grade quite easily, as they possess some creative
 spark, "no matter how crude, humble or obvious" it might be.  Id., s 1.08[C]
 [1].  Originality does not signify novelty;  a work may be original even though
 it closely resembles other works so long as the similarity is fortuitous, not
 the result of copying.  To illustrate, assume that two poets,
 each ignorant of the other, compose identical poems.  Neither work is novel,
 yet both are original and, hence, copyrightable.  See: Sheldon v. Metro-
 Goldwyn Pictures Corp., 81 F.2d 49, 54 (CA2 1936).

 Originality is a constitutional requirement.  The source of Congress' power to
 enact copyright laws is Article I, s 8, cl. 8, of the Constitution, which
 authorizes Congress to "secur[e] for limited Times to Authors ... the exclusive
 Right to their respective Writings."  In two decisions from the late 19th
 century--  The Trade-Mark Cases, 100 U.S. 82, 25 L.Ed. 550 (1879);  and
 Burrow-Giles Lithographic Co. v. Sarony, 111 U.S. 53, 4 S.Ct. 279, 28 L.Ed.
 349 (1884)--this Court defined the crucial terms "authors" and "writings."  In
 so doing, the Court made it unmistakably clear that these terms presuppose a
 degree of originality.

 In The Trade-Mark Cases, the Court addressed the constitutional scope
 of "writings."  For a particular work to be classified "under the head of
 writings of authors," the Court determined, "originality is required."  100
 U.S., at 94.  The Court explained that originality requires independent
 creation plus a modicum of creativity:  "[W]hile the word writings may be
 liberally construed, as it has been, to include original designs for engraving,
 prints, &c., it is only such as are original, and are founded in the creative
 powers of the mind.  The writings which are to be protected are the fruits of
 intellectual labor, embodied in the form of books, prints, engravings, and the
 like."  Ibid.  

 In Burrow-Giles, the Court distilled the same requirement from the
 Constitution's use of the word "authors."  The Court defined "author," in a
 constitutional sense, to mean "he to whom anything owes its origin;
 originator;  maker."  111 U.S., at 58, 4 S.Ct., at 281 (internal quotation
 marks omitted).  As in  The Trade-Mark Cases, the Court emphasized the
 creative component of originality.  It described copyright as being limited to
 "original intellectual conceptions of the author,"  111 U.S., at 58, 4 S.Ct.,
 at 281, and stressed the importance of requiring an author who accuses another
 of infringement to prove "the existence of those facts of originality,
 of intellectual production, of thought, and conception."  Id., at 59-60, 4
 S.Ct., at 281-282.

 The originality requirement articulated in  The Trade-Mark Cases and
 Burrow-Giles remains the touchstone of copyright protection today.  See:
 Goldstein v. California, 412 U.S. 546, 561-562, 93 S.Ct. 2303, 2312, 37
 L.Ed.2d 163 (1973).  It is the very "premise of copyright law."  Miller v.
 Universal City Studios, Inc., 650 F.2d 1365, 1368 (CA5 1981).  Leading scholars
 agree on this point.  As one pair of commentators succinctly puts it:  "The
 originality requirement is constitutionally mandated for all works."
 Patterson & Joyce, Monopolizing the Law:  The Scope of Copyright Protection for
 Law Reports and Statutory Compilations, 36 UCLA L.Rev. 719, 763, n. 155
 (1989) (hereinafter Patterson & Joyce).  Accord, id., at
 759-760, and n. 140;  Nimmer s 1.06[A] ("[O]riginality is a statutory as well
 as a constitutional requirement");  id., s 1.08[C][1] ("[A] modicum of
 intellectual labor ... clearly constitutes an essential constitutional
It is this bedrock principle of copyright that mandates the law's seemingly
 disparate treatment of facts and factual compilations.  "No one may claim
 originality as to facts."  Id., s 2.11[A], p. 2-157.  This is because facts do
 not owe their origin to an act of authorship.  The distinction is one between
 creation and discovery:  The first person to find and report a particular fact
 has not created the fact;  he or she has merely discovered its existence.  To
 borrow from Burrow-Giles, one who discovers a fact is not its "maker" or
 "originator."  111 U.S., at 58, 4 S.Ct., at 281.  "The discoverer merely
 finds and records."  Nimmer s 2.03[E].  Census takers, for example, do not
 "create" the population figures that emerge from their efforts;  in a
 sense, they copy these figures from the world around them.  Denicola,
 Copyright in Collections of Facts:  A Theory for the Protection of Nonfiction
 Literary Works, 81 Colum.L.Rev. 516, 525 (1981) (hereinafter Denicola).
 Census data therefore do not trigger copyright because these data are not
 "original" in the constitutional sense.  Nimmer s 2.03[E].  The same is
 true of all facts--scientific, historical, biographical, and news of the day.
 "[T]hey may not be copyrighted and are part of the public domain available to
 every person."  Miller, supra, at 1369.

 Factual compilations, on the other hand, may possess the
 requisite originality.  The compilation author typically chooses which facts to
 include, in what order to place them, and how to arrange the collected data so
 that they may be used effectively by readers.  These choices as to selection
 and arrangement, so long as they are made independently by the compiler and
 entail a minimal degree of creativity, are sufficiently original that Congress
 may protect such compilations through the copyright laws.  Nimmer ss 2.11[D],
 3.03;  Denicola 523, n. 38.  Thus, even a directory that contains absolutely no
 protectible written expression, only facts, meets the constitutional minimum
 for copyright protection if it features an original selection or arrangement.
 See: Harper & Row, 471 U.S., at 547, 105 S.Ct., at 2223.  Accord, Nimmer s

 This protection is subject to an important limitation.  The mere fact
 that a work is copyrighted does not mean that every element of the work may be
 protected.  Originality remains the sine qua non of copyright;  accordingly,
 copyright protection may extend only to those components of a work that are
 original to the author.  Patterson & Joyce 800-802;  Ginsburg, Creation and
 Commercial Value:  Copyright Protection of Works of Information, 90
 Colum.L.Rev. 1865, 1868, and n. 12 (1990) (hereinafter Ginsburg).  Thus, if the
 compilation author clothes facts with an original collocation of words, he or
 she may be able to claim a copyright in this written expression.  Others may
 copy the underlying facts from the publication, but not the precise words used
 to present them.  In Harper & Row, for example, we explained that President
 Ford could not prevent others from copying bare historical facts from his
 autobiography, see:  471 U.S., at 556-557, 105 S.Ct., at 2228-2229, but that
 he could prevent others from copying his "subjective descriptions and portraits
 of public figures." Id., at 563, 105 S.Ct., at 2232.  Where the
 compilation author adds no written expression but rather lets the facts speak
 for themselves, the expressive element is more elusive.  The only conceivable
 expression is the manner in which the compiler has selected and arranged the
 facts.  Thus, if the selection and arrangement are original, these elements of
 the work are eligible for copyright protection.  See Patry, Copyright in
 Compilations of Facts (or Why the "White Pages" Are Not Copyrightable), 12
 Com. & Law 37, 64 (Dec. 1990) (hereinafter Patry).  No matter how original the
 format, however, the facts themselves do not become original through
 association.  See Patterson & Joyce 776.
 This inevitably means that the copyright in a factual compilation is
 thin.  Notwithstanding a valid copyright, a subsequent compiler remains free to
 use the facts contained in another's publication to aid in preparing a
 competing work, so long as the competing work does not feature the same
 selection and arrangement.  As one commentator explains it:  "[N]o matter how
 much original authorship the work displays, the facts and ideas it exposes are
 free for the taking....  [T]he very same facts and ideas may be divorced from
 the context imposed by the author, and restated or reshuffled by second comers,
 even if the author was the first to discover the facts or to propose the
 ideas."  Ginsburg 1868.

 It may seem unfair that much of the fruit of the compiler's labor may be
 used by others without compensation.  As Justice Brennan has correctly
 observed, however, this is not "some unforeseen byproduct of a statutory
 scheme."  Harper & Row, 471 U.S., at 589, 105 S.Ct., at 2245 (dissenting
 opinion).  It is, rather, "the essence of copyright,"  ibid., and a
 constitutional requirement.  The primary objective of copyright is not to
 reward the labor of authors, but "[t]o promote the Progress of Science and
 useful Arts."  Art. I, s 8, cl. 8.  Accord, Twentieth Century Music Corp. v.
 Aiken, 422 U.S. 151, 156, 95 S.Ct. 2040, 2044, 45 L.Ed.2d 84 (1975).  To this
 end, copyright assures authors the right to their original expression,
 but encourages others to build freely upon the ideas and information conveyed
 by a work.  Harper & Row, supra, 471 U.S., at 556-557, 105 S.Ct., at 2228-
 2229.  This principle, known as the idea/expression or fact/expression
 dichotomy, applies to all works of authorship.  As applied to a factual
 compilation, assuming the absence of original written expression, only the
 compiler's selection and arrangement may be protected;  the raw facts may be
 copied at will.  This result is neither unfair nor unfortunate.  It is the
 means by which copyright advances the progress of science and art.

 This Court has long recognized that the fact/expression dichotomy limits
 severely the scope of protection in fact-based works.  More than a century ago,
 the Court observed:  "The very object of publishing a book on science or the
 useful arts is to communicate to the world the useful knowledge which it
 contains.  But this object would be frustrated if the knowledge could not be
 used without incurring the guilt of piracy of the book."   Baker v. Selden,
 101 U.S. 99, 103, 25 L.Ed. 841 (1880).  We reiterated this point in Harper &

 "[N]o author may copyright facts or ideas.  The copyright is limited to those
 aspects of the work--termed 'expression'--that display the stamp of the
 author's originality.
 "[C]opyright does not prevent subsequent users from copying from a prior
 author's work those constituent elements that are not original--for example ...
 facts, or materials in the public domain--as long as such use does not unfairly
 appropriate the author's original contributions."   471 U.S., at 547-548, 105
 S.Ct., at 2223-2224 (citation omitted).

 This, then, resolves the doctrinal tension:  Copyright treats facts and
 factual compilations in a wholly consistent manner.  Facts, whether alone or as
 part of a compilation, are not original and therefore may not be copyrighted.
 A factual compilation is eligible for copyright if it features an original
 selection or arrangement of facts, but the copyright is limited to the
 particular selection or arrangement.  In no event may copyright extend to the
 facts themselves.


 As we have explained, originality is a constitutionally mandated prerequisite
 for copyright protection.  The Court's decisions announcing this rule predate
 the Copyright Act of 1909, but ambiguous language in the 1909 Act caused some
 lower courts temporarily to lose sight of this requirement.

 The 1909 Act embodied the originality requirement, but not as clearly as
 it might have.  See Nimmer s 2.01.  The subject matter of copyright was set out
 in ss 3 and 4 of the Act.  Section 4 stated that copyright was available to
 "all the writings of an author."  35 Stat. 1076.  By using the words
 "writings" and "author" -- the same words used in Article I, s 8, of the
 Constitution and defined by the Court in  The Trade-Mark Cases and  Burrow-
 Giles -- the statute necessarily incorporated the originality requirement
 articulated in the Court's decisions.  It did so implicitly, however, thereby
 leaving room for error.

 Section 3 was similarly ambiguous.  It stated that the copyright in a work
 protected only "the copyrightable component parts of the work."  It thus stated
 an important copyright principle, but failed to identify the specific
 characteristic--originality--that determined which component parts of a work
 were copyrightable and which were not.

 Most courts construed the 1909 Act correctly, notwithstanding the less-than-
 perfect statutory language.  They understood from this Court's decisions that
 there could be no copyright without originality.  See Patterson & Joyce 760-
 761.  As explained in the Nimmer treatise:  "The 1909 Act neither defined
 originality, nor even expressly required that a work be 'original' in order to
 command protection.  However, the courts uniformly inferred the requirement
 from the fact that copyright protection may only be claimed by 'authors'....
 It was reasoned that since an author is 'the ... creator, originator'
 it follows that a work is not the product of an author unless the work is
 original."  Nimmer s 2.01 (footnotes omitted) (citing cases).

 But some courts misunderstood the statute.  See, e.g., Leon v. Pacific
 Telephone & Telegraph Co., 91 F.2d 484 (CA9 1937);  Jeweler's Circular
 Publishing Co. v. Keystone Publishing Co., 281 F. 83 (CA2 1922).  These courts
 ignored ss 3 and 4, focusing their attention instead on s 5 of the Act.
 Section 5, however, was purely technical in nature:  It provided that a person
 seeking to register a work should indicate on the application the type of work,
 and it listed 14 categories under which the work might fall.  One of these
 categories was "[b]ooks, including composite and cyclopaedic works,
 directories, gazetteers, and other compilations."  s 5(a).  Section 5 did not
 purport to say that all compilations were automatically copyrightable.  Indeed,
 it expressly disclaimed any such function, pointing out that "the subject-
 matter of copyright [i]s defined in section four."  Nevertheless, the fact that
 factual compilations were mentioned specifically in s 5 led some courts to
 infer erroneously that directories and the like were copyrightable per se,
 "without any further or precise showing of original--personal--authorship."
 Ginsburg 1895.

  Making matters worse, these courts developed a new theory to justify the
 protection of factual compilations.  Known alternatively as "sweat of the brow"
 or "industrious collection," the underlying notion was that copyright was a
 reward for the hard work that went into compiling facts.  The classic
 formulation of the doctrine appeared in Jeweler's Circular Publishing Co.,
 281 F., at 88:

 "The right to copyright a book upon which one has expended labor in its
 preparation does not depend upon whether the materials which he has collected
 consist or not of matters which are publici juris, or whether such materials
 show literary skill or originality, either in thought or in language, or
 anything more than industrious collection.  The man who goes through
 the streets of a town and puts down the names of each of the inhabitants, with
 their occupations and their street number, acquires material of which he is the

 The "sweat of the brow" doctrine had numerous flaws, the most glaring being
 that it extended copyright protection in a compilation beyond selection and
 arrangement--the compiler's original contributions--to the facts themselves.
 Under the doctrine, the only defense to infringement was independent creation.
 A subsequent compiler was "not entitled to take one word of information
 previously published," but rather had to "independently wor[k] out the matter
 for himself, so as to arrive at the same result from the same common sources of
 information."  Id., at 88-89 (internal quotations omitted).  "Sweat of the
 brow" courts thereby eschewed the most fundamental axiom of copyright law--that
 no one may copyright facts or ideas.  See Miller v. Universal City Studios,
 Inc., 650 F.2d, at 1372 (criticizing "sweat of the brow" courts because "ensur
 [ing] that later writers obtain the facts independently ... is precisely the
 scope of protection given ... copyrighted matter, and the law is
 clear that facts are not entitled to such protection").
 Decisions of this Court applying the 1909 Act make clear that the statute did
 not permit the "sweat of the brow" approach.  The best example is
 International News Service v. Associated Press, 248 U.S. 215, 39 S.Ct. 68,
 63 L.Ed. 211 (1918).  In that decision, the Court stated unambiguously that the
 1909 Act conferred copyright protection only on those elements of a work that
 were original to the author.  International News Service had conceded taking
 news reported by Associated Press and publishing it in its own newspapers.
 Recognizing that s 5 of the Act specifically mentioned " 'periodicals,
 including newspapers,' " s 5(b), the Court acknowledged that news articles were
 copyrightable.  Id., at 234, 39 S.Ct., at 70.  It flatly rejected, however,
 the notion that the copyright in an article extended to the factual
 information it contained:  "[T]he news element--the information respecting
 current events contained in the literary production--is not the creation of the
 writer, but is a report of matters that ordinarily are publici juris;  it is
 the history of the day."  > Ibid. (FootNote: The Court ultimately rendered judgment for
Associated Press on noncopyright grounds that are not relevant here.  See 248 U.S.,
at 235, 241-242, 39 S.Ct., at 71, 73-74.)

 Without a doubt, the "sweat of the brow" doctrine flouted basic copyright
 principles.  Throughout history, copyright law has "recognize[d] a greater need
 to disseminate factual works than works of fiction or fantasy."  Harper &
 Row, 471 U.S., at 563, 105 S.Ct., at 2232.  Accord, Gorman, Fact or Fancy:  The
 Implications for Copyright, 29 J. Copyright Soc. 560, 563 (1982).  But "sweat
 of the brow" courts took a contrary view;  they handed out proprietary
 interests in facts and declared that authors are absolutely precluded from
 saving time and effort by relying upon the facts contained in prior works.  In
 truth, "[i]t is just such wasted effort that the proscription against the
 copyright of ideas and facts ... [is] designed to prevent."  Rosemont
 Enterprises, Inc. v. Random House, Inc., 366 F.2d 303, 310 (CA2 1966), cert.
 denied  385 U.S. 1009, 87 S.Ct. 714, 17 L.Ed.2d 546 (1967).  "Protection for
 the fruits of such research ... may in certain circumstances be available under
 a theory of unfair competition.  But to accord copyright protection on this
 basis alone distorts basic copyright principles in that it creates a monopoly
 in public domain materials without the necessary justification of protecting
 and encouraging the creation of 'writings' by 'authors.' "  Nimmer s 3.04, p.
 3-23 (footnote omitted).


 "Sweat of the brow" decisions did not escape the attention of the
 Copyright Office.  When Congress decided to overhaul the copyright statute and
 asked the Copyright Office to study existing problems, see  Mills Music, Inc.
 v. Snyder, 469 U.S. 153, 159, 105 S.Ct. 638, 642, 83 L.Ed.2d 556 (1985), the
 Copyright Office promptly recommended that Congress clear up the
 confusion in the lower courts as to the basic standards of copyrightability.
 The Register of Copyrights explained in his first report to Congress that
 "originality" was a "basic requisit[e]" of copyright under the 1909 Act, but
 that "the absence of any reference to [originality] in the statute seems to
 have led to misconceptions as to what is copyrightable matter."  Report of the
 Register of Copyrights on the General Revision of the U.S. Copyright Law, 87th
 Cong., 1st Sess., p. 9 (H. Judiciary Comm. Print 1961).  The Register suggested
 making the originality requirement explicit.  Ibid.

 Congress took the Register's advice.  In enacting the Copyright Act of 1976,
 Congress dropped the reference to "all the writings of an author" and replaced
 it with the phrase "original works of authorship."  17 U.S.C. s 102(a).  In
 making explicit the originality requirement, Congress announced that it was
 merely clarifying existing law:  "The two fundamental criteria of
 copyright protection [are] originality and fixation in tangible
 form....  The phrase 'original works of authorship,' which is purposely left
 undefined, is intended to incorporate without change the standard of
 originality established by the courts under the present [1909] copyright
 statute."  H.R.Rep. No. 94-1476, p. 51 (1976) (emphasis added) (hereinafter
 H.R.Rep.);  S.Rep. No. 94-473, p. 50 (1975), U.S.Code Cong. & Admin.News 1976,
 pp. 5659, 5664 (emphasis added) (hereinafter S.Rep.).  This sentiment was
 echoed by the Copyright Office:  "Our intention here is to maintain the
 established standards of originality...."  Supplementary Report of the Register
 of Copyrights on the General Revision of U.S. Copyright Law, 89th Cong., 1st
 Sess., pt. 6, p. 3 (H. Judiciary Comm. Print 1965) (emphasis added).
 To ensure that the mistakes of the "sweat of the brow" courts would not be
 repeated, Congress took additional measures.  For example, s 3 of the 1909 Act
 had stated that copyright protected only the "copyrightable component parts" of
 a work, but had not identified originality as the basis for
 distinguishing those component parts that were copyrightable from those
 that were not.  The 1976 Act deleted this section and replaced it with s
 102(b), which identifies specifically those elements of a work for which
 copyright is not available:  "In no case does copyright protection for an
 original work of authorship extend to any idea, procedure, process, system,
 method of operation, concept, principle, or discovery, regardless of the form
 in which it is described, explained, illustrated, or embodied in such work."
 Section 102(b) is universally understood to prohibit any copyright in facts.
 Harper & Row, supra, at 547, 556, 105 S.Ct., at 2223, 2228.  Accord,
 Nimmer s 2.03[E] (equating facts with "discoveries").  As with s 102(a),
 Congress emphasized that s 102(b) did not change the law, but merely clarified
 it:  "Section 102(b) in no way enlarges or contracts the scope of copyright
 protection under the present law.  Its purpose is to restate ... that the basic
 dichotomy between expression and idea remains unchanged."  H.R.Rep., at 57;
 S.Rep., at 54, U.S.Code Cong. & Admin.News 1976, p. 5670.

 Congress took another step to minimize confusion by deleting the
 specific mention of "directories ... and other compilations" in s 5 of the 1909
 Act.  As mentioned, this section had led some courts to conclude that
 directories were copyrightable per se and that every element of a directory was
 protected.  In its place, Congress enacted two new provisions.  First, to make
 clear that compilations were not copyrightable per se, Congress provided a
 definition of the term "compilation."  Second, to make clear that the copyright
 in a compilation did not extend to the facts themselves, Congress enacted s
 The definition of "compilation" is found in s 101 of the 1976 Act.  It defines
 a "compilation" in the copyright sense as "a work formed by the collection and
 assembling of preexisting materials or of data that are selected, coordinated,
 or arranged in such a way that the resulting work as a whole constitutes an
 original work of authorship" (emphasis added).

 The purpose of the statutory definition is to emphasize that
 collections of facts are not copyrightable per se.  It conveys this message
 through its tripartite structure, as emphasized above by the italics.  The
 statute identifies three distinct elements and requires each to be met for a
 work to qualify as a copyrightable compilation:  (1) the collection and
 assembly of pre-existing material, facts, or data;  (2) the selection,
 coordination, or arrangement of those materials;  and (3) the creation, by
 virtue of the particular selection, coordination, or arrangement, of an
 "original" work of authorship.  "[T]his tripartite conjunctive structure is
 self-evident, and should be assumed to 'accurately express the legislative
 purpose.' "  Patry 51, quoting Mills Music, 469 U.S., at 164, 105 S.Ct., at

 At first glance, the first requirement does not seem to tell us much.  It
 merely describes what one normally thinks of as a compilation -- a collection of          
 pre-existing material, facts, or data.  What makes it significant
 is that it is not the sole requirement.  It is not enough for copyright
 purposes that an author collects and assembles facts.  To satisfy the statutory
 definition, the work must get over two additional hurdles.  In this way, the
 plain language indicates that not every collection of facts receives copyright
 protection.  Otherwise, there would be a period after "data."
 The third requirement is also illuminating.  It emphasizes that a compilation,
 like any other work, is copyrightable only if it satisfies the originality
 requirement ("an original work of authorship").  Although s 102 states plainly
 that the originality requirement applies to all works, the point was emphasized
 with regard to compilations to ensure that courts would not repeat the mistake
 of the "sweat of the brow" courts by concluding that fact-based works are
 treated differently and measured by some other standard.  As Congress explained
 it, the goal was to "make plain that the criteria of copyrightable subject
 matter stated in section 102 apply with full force to works ... containing
 preexisting material."  H.R.Rep., at 57;  S.Rep., at 55, U.S.Code Cong. &
 Admin.News 1976, p. 5670.

 The key to the statutory definition is the second requirement.
 It instructs courts that, in determining whether a fact-based work is an
 original work of authorship, they should focus on the manner in which the
 collected facts have been selected, coordinated, and arranged.  This is a
 straightforward application of the originality requirement.  Facts are never
 original, so the compilation author can claim originality, if at all, only in
 the way the facts are presented.  To that end, the statute dictates that the
 principal focus should be on whether the selection, coordination, and
 arrangement are sufficiently original to merit protection.
 Not every selection, coordination, or arrangement will pass muster.
 This is plain from the statute.  It states that, to merit protection, the facts
 must be selected, coordinated, or arranged "in such a way" as to render the
 work as a whole original.  This implies that some "ways" will trigger
 copyright, but that others will not.  See Patry 57, and n. 76.  Otherwise, the
 phrase "in such a way" is meaningless and Congress should have defined
 "compilation" simply as "a work formed by the collection and assembly of
 preexisting materials or data that are selected, coordinated, or arranged."
 That Congress did not do so is dispositive.  In accordance with "the
 established principle that a court should give effect, if possible, to every
 clause and word of a statute," Moskal v. United States, 498 U.S. 103, 109-
 110, 111 S.Ct. 461, 466, 112 L.Ed.2d 449 (1990) (internal quotation marks
 omitted), we conclude that the statute envisions that there will be some fact-
 based works in which the selection, coordination, and arrangement are not
 sufficiently original to trigger copyright protection.

 As discussed earlier, however, the originality requirement is not
 particularly stringent.  A compiler may settle upon a selection or arrangement
 that others have used;  novelty is not required.  Originality requires only
 that the author make the selection or arrangement independently (i.e., without
 copying that selection or arrangement from another work), and that it display
 some minimal level of creativity.  Presumably, the vast majority of
 compilations will pass this test, but not all will.  There remains a narrow
 category of works in which the creative spark is utterly lacking or so trivial
 as to be virtually nonexistent.  See generally  Bleistein v. Donaldson
 Lithographing Co., 188 U.S. 239, 251, 23 S.Ct. 298, 300, 47 L.Ed. 460
 (1903) (referring to "the narrowest and most obvious limits").  Such works are
 incapable of sustaining a valid copyright.  Nimmer s 2.01[B].

 Even if a work qualifies as a copyrightable compilation, it receives only
 limited protection.  This is the point of s 103 of the Act.  Section
 103 explains that "[t]he subject matter of copyright ... includes
 compilations," s 103(a), but that copyright protects only the author's original
 contributions--not the facts or information conveyed:

 "The copyright in a compilation ... extends only to the material contributed
 by the author of such work, as distinguished from the preexisting material
 employed in the work, and does not imply any exclusive right in the preexisting
 material."  s 103(b).

 As s 103 makes clear, copyright is not a tool by which a compilation
 author may keep others from using the facts or data he or she has collected.
 "The most important point here is one that is commonly misunderstood today:
 copyright ... has no effect one way or the other on the copyright or public
 domain status of the preexisting material."  H.R.Rep., at 57;  S.Rep., at 55,
 U.S.Code Cong. & Admin. News 1976, p. 5670.  The 1909 Act did not require, as
 "sweat of the brow" courts mistakenly assumed, that each subsequent compiler
 must start from scratch and is precluded from relying on research undertaken by
 another.  See, e.g., Jeweler's Circular Publishing Co., 281 F., at 88-89.
 Rather, the facts contained in existing works may be freely copied because
 copyright protects only the elements that owe their origin to the compiler--the
 selection, coordination, and arrangement of facts.

 In summary, the 1976 revisions to the Copyright Act leave no doubt that
 originality, not "sweat of the brow," is the touchstone of copyright
 protection in directories and other fact-based works.  Nor is there any doubt
 that the same was true under the 1909 Act.  The 1976 revisions were a direct
 response to the Copyright Office's concern that many lower courts had
 misconstrued this basic principle, and Congress emphasized repeatedly that the
 purpose of the revisions was to clarify, not change, existing law.  The
 revisions explain with painstaking clarity that copyright requires
 originality, s 102(a);  that facts are never original, s 102(b);  that the
 copyright in a compilation does not extend to the facts it contains, s 103(b);
 and that a compilation is copyrightable only to the extent that it features an
 original selection, coordination, or arrangement, s 101.

 The 1976 revisions have proven largely successful in steering courts in the
 right direction.  A good example is  Miller v. Universal City Studios, Inc.,
 650 F.2d, at 1369-1370:  "A copyright in a directory ... is properly viewed as
 resting on the originality of the selection and arrangement of the factual
 material, rather than on the industriousness of the efforts to develop the
 information.  Copyright protection does not extend to the facts themselves, and
 the mere use of information contained in a directory without a substantial
 copying of the format does not constitute infringement" (citation omitted).
 Additionally, the Second Circuit, which almost 70 years ago issued the classic
 formulation of the "sweat of the brow" doctrine in  Jeweler's Circular
 Publishing Co., has now fully repudiated the reasoning of that decision.  See,
 e.g.,  Financial Information, Inc. v. Moody's Investors Service, Inc., 808
 F.2d 204, 207 (CA2 1986), cert. denied,  484 U.S. 820, 108 S.Ct. 79, 98
 L.Ed.2d 42 (1987);   Financial Information, Inc. v. Moody's Investors
 Service, Inc., 751 F.2d 501, 510 (CA2 1984) (Newman, J., concurring);
 Hoehling v. Universal City Studios, Inc., 618 F.2d 972, 979 (CA2 1980).
 Even those scholars who believe that "industrious collection" should be
 rewarded seem to recognize that this is beyond the scope of existing copyright
 law.  See Denicola 516 ("[T]he very vocabulary of copyright is ill
 suited to analyzing property rights in works of nonfiction");  id., at
 520-521, 525;  Ginsburg 1867, 1870.


 There is no doubt that Feist took from the white pages of Rural's
 directory a substantial amount of factual information.  At a minimum, Feist
 copied the names, towns, and telephone numbers of 1,309 of Rural's
 subscribers.  Not all copying, however, is copyright infringement.  To
 establish infringement, two elements must be proven:  (1) ownership of a valid
 copyright, and (2) copying of constituent elements of the work that are
 original.  See  Harper & Row, 471 U.S., at 548, 105 S.Ct., at 2224.  The
 first element is not at issue here;  Feist appears to concede that Rural's
 directory, considered as a whole, is subject to a valid copyright because it
 contains some foreword text, as well as original material in its yellow pages
 advertisements.  See Brief for Petitioner 18;  Pet. for Cert. 9.

 The question is whether Rural has proved the second element.  In
 other words, did Feist, by taking 1,309 names, towns, and telephone numbers
 from Rural's white pages, copy anything that was "original" to Rural?
 Certainly, the raw data does not satisfy the originality requirement.  Rural
 may have been the first to discover and report the names, towns, and telephone
 numbers of its subscribers, but this data does not " 'ow[e] its origin' " to
 Rural.  Burrow-Giles, 111 U.S., at 58, 4 S.Ct., at 281.  Rather, these bits
 of information are uncopyrightable facts;  they existed before Rural reported
 them and would have continued to exist if Rural had never published a telephone
 directory.  The originality requirement "rule[s] out protecting ... names,
 addresses, and telephone numbers of which the plaintiff by no stretch of the
 imagination could be called the author."  Patterson & Joyce 776.

 Rural essentially concedes the point by referring to the names, towns, and
 telephone numbers as "preexisting material."  Brief for Respondent 17.  Section
 103(b) states explicitly that the copyright in a compilation does not
 extend to "the preexisting material employed in the work."

 The question that remains is whether Rural selected, coordinated,
 or arranged these uncopyrightable facts in an original way.  As mentioned,
 originality is not a stringent standard;  it does not require that facts be
 presented in an innovative or surprising way.  It is equally true, however,
 that the selection and arrangement of facts cannot be so mechanical or routine
 as to require no creativity whatsoever.  The standard of originality is low,
 but it does exist.  See Patterson & Joyce 760, n. 144 ("While this requirement
 is sometimes characterized as modest, or a low threshold, it is not without
 effect") (internal quotation marks omitted;  citations omitted).  As this Court
 has explained, the Constitution mandates some minimal degree of creativity,
 see  The Trade-Mark Cases, 100 U.S., at 94;  and an author who claims
 infringement must prove "the existence of ... intellectual production, of
 thought, and conception."  > Burrow-Giles, supra, 111 U.S., at 59-60, 4 S.Ct.,
 at 281-282.

 The selection, coordination, and arrangement of Rural's white pages do not
 satisfy the minimum constitutional standards for copyright protection.  As
 mentioned at the outset, Rural's white pages are entirely typical.  Persons
 desiring telephone service in Rural's service area fill out an application and
 Rural issues them a telephone number.  In preparing its white pages, Rural
 simply takes the data provided by its subscribers and lists it alphabetically
 by surname.  The end product is a garden-variety white pages directory, devoid
 of even the slightest trace of creativity.
 Rural's selection of listings could not be more obvious:  It publishes the
 most basic information--name, town, and telephone number--about each person who
 applies to it for telephone service.  This is "selection" of a sort, but it
 lacks the modicum of creativity necessary to transform mere selection into
 copyrightable expression.  Rural expended sufficient effort to make the
 white pages directory useful, but insufficient creativity to make it original.

 We note in passing that the selection featured in Rural's white pages
 may also fail the originality requirement for another reason.  Feist points out
 that Rural did not truly "select" to publish the names and telephone numbers of
 its subscribers;  rather, it was required to do so by the Kansas
 Corporation Commission as part of its monopoly franchise.  See  737 F.Supp.,
 at 612.  Accordingly, one could plausibly conclude that this selection was
 dictated by state law, not by Rural.

 Nor can Rural claim originality in its coordination and arrangement of
 facts.  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.  See Brief for Information Industry Association et al. as
 Amici Curiae 10 (alphabetical arrangement "is universally observed in
 directories published by local exchange telephone companies").  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

  We conclude that the names, towns, and telephone numbers copied by Feist were
 not original to Rural and therefore were not protected by the copyright in
 Rural's combined white and yellow pages directory.  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. s 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.  Given that some works must fail, we
 cannot imagine a more likely candidate.  Indeed, were we to hold that Rural's
 white pages pass muster, it is hard to believe that any collection of facts
 could fail.

 Because Rural's white pages lack the requisite originality, Feist's use of the
 listings cannot constitute infringement.  This decision should not be construed
 as demeaning Rural's efforts in compiling its directory, but rather as making
 clear that copyright rewards originality, not effort.  As this Court noted more
 than a century ago, " 'great praise may be due to the plaintiffs for their
 industry and enterprise in publishing this paper, yet the law does not
 contemplate their being rewarded in this way.' "   Baker v. Selden, 101 U.S.,
 at 105.

 The judgment of the Court of Appeals is Reversed.

  Justice BLACKMUN concurs in the judgment.