Copyright isn't just for expressive works anymore. As the New York Law Journal reports, the New York Mercantile Exchange is suing IntercontinentalExchange Inc. for "copyright infringement for allegedly using Nymex-created prices for natural gas futures and light sweet crude oil futures contracts to clear and settle trades of derivative contracts for those two commodities. Nymex is claiming that the prices, which are set at the end of each business day, are protected because they are included in its automated database, which is registered with the U.S. Copyright Office. Additionally, the exchange asserts, the prices are "original works of authorship" requiring "a significant degree of educated judgment" of the Nymex staffers who set the prices."
The article goes on to explain some of the tangled case history that could be read to either support or deny Nymex's claim to copyright over price, and is worth reading in its entirety. The fact that Nymex's experts are the ones setting the prices in question will probably have some bearing on the way this all plays out.