Feeds

Software functionality not subject to copyright: EU court

WPL-vs-SAS case gets Court of Justice opinion

Remote control for virtualized desktops

In a far-reaching decision for the software industry, the European Court of Justice has decided that the functionality of software – as distinct from the actual code – is not covered by copyright.

The decision concludes a long-running court case first brought by SAS against World Programming Limited (WPL).

WPL had gotten under SAS’s skin by buying a copy of its software and creating a feature by reading the description of the feature in the manual, and writing its own code.

SAS had attempted, in English courts, to get a finding that WPL had violated its copyright. In 2010, that led to a British High Court decision that copying the manuals violated copyright, and that WPL had violated its license agreement – but decided to refer the matter to the European Court to settle the copyright questions in light of EU intellectual property directives.

The court has decided that functionality, absent any viewing or copying of code, cannot be protected by copyright: “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 judgment states.

The court has also placed limits on the ways in which vendors can constrain customers under licensing agreements:

“[T]he owner of the copyright in a computer program may not prevent, by relying on the licensing agreement, the person who has obtained that licence from determining the ideas and principles which underlie all the elements of that program,” the court says (limited not by the EULA but by copyright law). ®

Beginner's guide to SSL certificates

More from The Register

next story
Bladerunner sequel might actually be good. Harrison Ford is in it
Go ahead, you're all clear, kid... Sorry, wrong film
Euro Parliament VOTES to BREAK UP GOOGLE. Er, OK then
It CANNA do it, captain.They DON'T have the POWER!
Musicians sue UK.gov over 'zero pay' copyright fix
Everyone else in Europe compensates us - why can't you?
I'll be back (and forward): Hollywood's time travel tribulations
Quick, call the Time Cops to sort out this paradox!
Megaupload overlord Kim Dotcom: The US HAS RADICALISED ME!
Now my lawyers have bailed 'cos I'm 'OFFICIALLY' BROKE
Forget Hillary, HP's ex CARLY FIORINA 'wants to be next US Prez'
Former CEO has political ambitions again, according to Washington DC sources
prev story

Whitepapers

10 ways wire data helps conquer IT complexity
IT teams can automatically detect problems across the IT environment, spot data theft, select unique pieces of transaction payloads to send to a data source, and more.
Getting started with customer-focused identity management
Learn why identity is a fundamental requirement to digital growth, and how without it there is no way to identify and engage customers in a meaningful way.
How to determine if cloud backup is right for your servers
Two key factors, technical feasibility and TCO economics, that backup and IT operations managers should consider when assessing cloud backup.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Mitigating web security risk with SSL certificates
Web-based systems are essential tools for running business processes and delivering services to customers.