Lawsuit Claims Software Shouldn't Be Copyrighted

from the this-ought-to-be-fun dept

Just as Europe (hopefully) decides to squash any last hope for allowing software patents in the EU, well-known intellectual property reform advocate Greg Aharonian is trying to convince the courts that software should only be patentable -- and not copyrightable. His argument is, basically, that a copyright on software is too restrictive, without clearly stating what the rules are for making use of the copyrighted material. As the article explains, "software copyright laws violate the right to due process enshrined in the U.S. Constitution because they do not provide clear boundaries for appropriate use. That means industry players and courts do not have a clear idea of the rules." While it's an intriguing idea, it seems like a very shaky legal argument, and not one that many judges are going to buy. It may draw some attention to the issue of intellectual property reform -- but will probably strike too many as "too far out there" to take seriously. You can almost hear the disbelief coming from folks at the BSA responding to the lawsuit, astounded that anyone would take this line of reasoning against software copyrights.

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  • identicon
    Steve Mueller, 14 Dec 2004 @ 2:50am

    Software Copyrights

    Actually, it does make some sense. Software usually does something, which makes it more like an invention, and therefore patentable, than an artistic or journalistic work, which would be copyrightable.

    I don't have a problem with software patents per se. However, I feel that people trying to enforce the patents should actually be the inventor and/or actually have created or be actively creating something that uses the items expressed in the patent. That would prevent patent hoarders from buying patents just to slap lawsuits on people they think might be violating them. The actual inventor, being the creative person, may get a waiver on actually having to have used the invention.

    I would also raise the bar on the "non-obvious" part of patents. Online analogs of real-world items (for example, shopping carts) would not be patentable.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      LG, 14 Dec 2004 @ 3:25pm

      Re: Software Copyrights

      I agree. It seems like the patents of obvious processes are the more pernicious thing though.

      Software really IS more like a machine or a tool which is meant to do something than like the text of a book which is content to be communicated (as opposed to the physical idea of a book itself, which was once an invention).

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Steve Mueller, 15 Dec 2004 @ 1:01pm

    Software Copyrights

    I want to be clear on one thing. I still think software copyrights make sense. Patents are for non-obvious inventions, but copyrights can apply to obvious things.

    For example, a new spreadsheet is not likely to be patentable, but I should be able to get a copyright on the source code. I don't think people should be able to just take my source code and use it as they like unless that's my decision.

    Keeping the ability to copyright software will help prevent everything from becoming de facto open source.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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