Is Creating The Same Software Feature Copyright Infringement?

from the the-death-of-software dept

The EU Court of Justice is now considering a lawsuit between SAS and World Programming Ltd. over the extent of copyright protection in software. We wrote about this last year, when a UK court ruled against SAS, but now it’s been kicked up to the EU Court of Justice. Everyone seems to agree that WPL copied a feature from a SAS product, but did so in part by looking at SAS’s manual, but without access to the software itself, let alone the source code. Basically, WPL just found out about a feature, and created it on its own. It’s not even quite reverse engineering (which is generally considered legal), because they didn’t make it compatible with SAS’s offering — they just recreated the same basic feature.

It’s hard to see how this should be copyrightable. Can you imagine just how stagnated the software industry would become if you could copyright a feature on a piece of software, such that no one else could use it? Hopefully the European Court recognizes the problems such an extreme interpretation of copyright law would create.

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Companies: sas, world programming

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Comments on “Is Creating The Same Software Feature Copyright Infringement?”

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anonymous says:

of course the ‘European Court will recognize the problems such an extreme interpretation of copyright law would create’, then they will go ahead and rule in favour of SAS. if they cant think for themselves over music and movie copyrights and extensions to the lengths of terms, allowing themselves to be influenced constantly by the entertainment industries and the US government, how does anyone expect them to think for themselves over this issue?

Dark Helmet (profile) says:

Yay for word of the day.

Mike, this is the kind of story I just shake my head at. Your obvious attempt to paint several countries in the northern hemisphere with the same brush is so transparent it’s a wonder your freetard sheep here still support you. Just because some of these countries are in Europe and there is a court that holds over them, painting the court with the broadbrush and calling them “European” just underminds your cause.

But what more can you expect from Pirate Mike, the broadbrush terrorism-apologist and his merry band of freetard child-porn producers?

(You know what? This is actually kinda fun….)

DCL says:

Re: Yay for word of the day.


if you are turning to the Dark side of trolling and are already Dark then… {scratches head}..

You are going to be Dark-Dark Helmet.
you are going to go all the way around and become Light Helmet?
you are going to be “none more black” Helmet?
you will be a black hole from which nothing escapes the event horizon?

Rekrul says:

Can you imagine just how stagnated the software industry would become if you could copyright a feature on a piece of software, such that no one else could use it?

I think they should extend this level of copyright protection to movies and music. See how fast it gets revoked once studios discover that they can’t make any new movies because all the separate ideas they want to use are copyrighted by someone else. Or that singers can’t write any new songs.

Anonymous Coward says:

I’m a software developer in the USA for a relatively small company and I doubt our company could survive if we had to worry about a ridiculous law like this. I’d end up wasting half my time researching every single little new feature and if it had been done before or not with a law like this, and then we’d still probably get sued anyway.

Lord Binky says:

Re: Re:

You know every reference book that provides code snippets, well I guess those are already have copyright. As for online forums and websites that help provide code or functions? Yeah, I just went through every unclaimed chunk of code I could get my hands on and through it into a few files to copyright.

But what I really want to say is, If you ever write a program to display “Hello World” or any other text, I want my money.

DannyB (profile) says:

Letter from 2020

This was addressed in A Letter from 2020 which I read about a decade ago on Slashdot.

The actual writing has been a bit of a chore. Word.NET isn’t what it used to be. Even Microsoft.NET couldn’t afford to patent everything, so whilst I can do Find, there’s no Replace anymore.

The letter is worth reading.

Nick (profile) says:

I worked at a local small software company (that got bought out by a large mega corporation that completely screwed everyone at the company except the sell-out owner, but that is another story), and we were unable to implement a specific feature because it was copyrighted by another company. Or patented, or something. Not really sure right now, but I spoke to a developer asking why our software couldn’t just resize hard drive partitions to fit the whole drive, and was told we couldn’t because Symantec’s Ghost had it.

Anyway, we didn’t do this simple feature. Guess we might have gotten sued, and WE would have to prove that we didn’t maliciously hack into their servers and copy this simple idea from their code database.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Spellcheck

You remind me of a thought I had recently. I noticed how many applications requires their own dictionary, and I thought to myself, “How many dictionaries should I have to buy?” I already own several dead tree types. I have a couple from ‘free’ sources (i.e. LibreOffice). Do I really need to ‘buy’ another?

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