27th jul, 2010

Software copyright case

It is not often these days that you get a chance to read up on basic software copyright. It is usually all about patents these days. Via the 1709 blog however I found this new judgement that lays it all out.

The case SAS institute vs. World Programming Ltd. Is about:

 i  ) A claim that WPL has copied the manuals for the SAS System published by SAS Institute (“the SAS Manuals”) when creating WPS and thereby infringed the copyright in the SAS Manuals.

ii) A claim that, by copying the SAS manuals when creating WPS, WPL has indirectly copied the programs comprising the SAS Components and thereby infringed the copyright in the SAS Components.

iii) A claim that WPL has used a version of the SAS System known as the Learning Edition in contravention of the terms of its licences, and thereby both acted in breach of the relevant contracts and infringed the copyright in the Learning Edition.

iv) A claim that WPL has infringed the copyright in the SAS Manuals in creating its own documentation, namely a manual (“the WPS Manual”) and some “quick reference” guides (“the WPS Guides”).

There is a lot of programming talk in the arguments of the case but it gives a good insight in programming.
The judge does not accept a great deal of SAS Institute’s claims. Furthermore the judge refer three questions (the interesting ones) to the European Court of Justice. The most interesting question is whether programming languages are protected by copyright. There is also an interoperability question referred to the ECJ.
The case is a good read and I look forward to the ECJ decision.  

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