Programming languages not copyrightable rules top EU court
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Europe's top court ruled on Wednesday that the functionality of a computer program and the programming language it is written in cannot be protected by copyright.
The European Court of Justice made the decision in relation to a case brought by SAS Institute against World Programming Limited (WPL).
SAS makes data processing and statistical analysis programs. The core component of the SAS system allows users to write and run application programs written in SAS programming language. Through reference to the Learning Edition of the SAS System, which WPL acquired under a lawful license, WPL created a product that emulates much of the functionality of the SAS components, so that customers' application programs can run in the same way on WPL as on the SAS components.
The court found that although WPL used and studied SAS programs in order to understand their functioning, there was "nothing to suggest that WPL had access to or copied the source code of the SAS components." It ruled that "The purchaser of a license for a program is entitled, as a rule, to observe, study or test its functioning so as to determine the ideas and principles which underlie that program."
If it were accepted that a functionality of a computer program can be protected as such, that would amount to making it possible to monopolize ideas, to the detriment of technological progress and industrial development, decided the court, echoing the opinion given last November by the court's Advocate General, Yves Bot.
The result is that the court finds that ideas and principles which underlie any element of a computer program are not protected by copyright under that directive, only the expression of those ideas and principles.
This in effect leaves the door open for other software companies to "reverse engineer" programs in many cases without fear of infringing copyright.
Why do companies think they can "own" the whole industry their product is it.
No you can't patent/copyright ideas - get over it.
Too bad the way the Common Law system works that cases have to be taken to court to create precedents around the finer details of copyright/patent law.
Posted by Anonymous at 16:31:04 on May 3, 2012
If we extend the thinking of the EU court then, if I study the Beatles, and sing it identically to them there is no copy right infringement. Or if I study a Mercedes Benz and make a look alike including the star on the bonnet then that is fine too?! Well that is what China would argue too not so, afterall they study how make similar Fashion house handbags and watches. So why did we arrest Kim Dotcom, all his users did was study how to copy something, and then copied it. It also shows us the folly of the new NZ patent law which excludes software patents since the belief is that copyright is enough. Ha bloody ha.
Posted by Anonymous at 13:47:01 on May 3, 2012
Nope.. If you do that you are passing something off as a Mercedes, which it isn't. It's counterfeiting, and will likely infringe a whole bunch of copyright, patent and trademark laws.
"It also shows us the folly of the new NZ patent law which excludes software patents since the belief is that copyright is enough." It is. Show me where somebody has copied source code without permission and got away with it in court.
Software patents, however, are a colossally expensive stupidity.
See the recent behaviour of Google and Apple for evidence of both of these.
As for the 'Beatles' - cover versions of Beatles (or anybody else's songs) songs have always been allowed. Go for it. If you claim you ARE the Beatles, however...
Why did we arrest Kim Dotcom? Politics, not law.
Posted by Anonymous at 13:15:37 on May 28, 2012
The sound-bite version is:
1. a programming language is not protected by copyright
2. data formats are not protected by copyright
3. program functionality is not protected by copyright
4. program source and object code continue to be protected by copyright
This is a good ruling by the Court. If you write a song that copies a tune from the Beatles, you infringe their copyright. If you copy my code, you infringe my copyright. If you reverse engineer what my code does and re-implement it, you do not infringe my copyright.
Posted by Anonymous at 18:22:46 on May 3, 2012