The European Union’s Court of Justice has repeatedly confirmed that computer software is not eligible for copyright protection. While this is a win for many in the software industry that rely on reverse engineering, its impact on U.S. copyright litigation is unknown.
In the court’s decision in SAS Institute Inc. v. World Programming Ltd., the court concluded that “neither the functionality of a computer program nor the programming language and the format of data files used in a computer program” are expressive enough to qualify for copyright protection.
“To accept that the functionality of a computer program can be protected by copyright would amount to making it possible to monopolise ideas, to the detriment of technological progress and industrial development,” the court said.
Oracle and Google, among others, are currently litigating several software copyright infringement claims here in the U.S. Oracle has argued for an even broader interpretation of copyright law as it applies to software, contending that the structure, sequence, and organization of its Java APIs are copyrightable, while Google maintains that Oracle is overreaching. As previously reported, Oracle did not fair well in the initial case and is still mulling appeals.
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– Ex astris, scientia –
I am and avid amateur astronomer and intellectual property attorney. As a former Chief Petty Officer in the U.S. Navy, I am a proud member of the Armed Service Committee of the Los Angeles County Bar Association working to aid all active duty and veterans in our communities. Connect with me on Google +