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back to article European court advisor slams software copyrights

A senior court advisor has issued an opinion to the European Court of Justice that software functions cannot be copyrighted. "If it were accepted that a functionality of a computer program can be protected as such, that would amount to making it possible to monopolize ideas, to the detriment of technological progress and …

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How many IP lawyers

Will that put out of business if the court accepts this

couldn't happen to a nicer bunch

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Anonymous Coward

No light bulb needs changing

Well, see, if all the decisions were in the same direction, you wouldn't need so many lawyers. You have to balance them a bit for better business...

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Vic
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Re: How many IP lawyers

> Will that put out of business

Not enough...

Vic.

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Anonymous Coward

What? I don't get it. A decision that actually makes sense from a court of law? What's the world coming to!

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Anonymous Coward

Indeed

Now abolish software patents, please!

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coming to....

Clapham Junction

Apparently everyone ends up there eventually

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Bronze badge

Copy right or patent ? If I copy right my picture of Big Ben you still can take picture of Big Ben and sell it. If I can't copy right my picture how am I suppose to protect my work from being taken from some else and sold ? Now extend that to software.

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Facepalm

Copyright.

You can't patent a photo of something.

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Were did I say patenting a picture.

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Anonymous Coward

@kain preacher - I'll make it easy for you

Copyright prevents me from selling your picture of Big Ben which is your work. However this must not prevent me from working hard to take a picture of the same Big Ben from a slightly different angle using a different technology/colors/time of the day/whatever and sell it myself, unless of course Big Ben is your personal creation.

See, I told you it was easy!

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FAIL

@ kain preacher

The thing you're missing is you HAVE copyright over your photo. However if somebody sees your photo and then goes and takes one themselves, you DON'T have copyright on that, even if it looks more or less the same...

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Copyright covers expression. Patent covers ideas.

You can copyright your photograph. You cant copyright the idea of taking a photograph. You're way too late to patent the idea.

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A patent is not for any idea, it is for an invention of a (feature of a) product or a process to create a product. So at the time of its invention you can patent a camera and assorted printing kit both as products in their own right, and as a means to create a picture. The idea to create a picture in itself is not patentable (at that point in time). Pure, abstract ideas such as scientific theories or mathematical equations are not patentable.

A nice paper in IEEE Computer argued that as all software can be expressed in an expression in lambda calculus (would you not hate to do that for say an OS kernel), all software is just a collection of mathematical equations, and therefore not patentable.

You can see I have been talking to IP lawyer too much.

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Big Brother

Surely...

...there is nothing to stop you taking another photo of Big Ben from the same angle, at the same time of day using the same technology so long as you can prove that the new image was not created from the old.

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No but

You can copyright it. In fact professional photographers do, and rightly so. What you can't do is copyright the view, anyone is free to go and take their own photograph of Big Ben, or anything else, and do with it as they wish.

In software that should mean that you can copyright your code, so that people have to pay you if they want to use it, or if they don't they can go and write their own version from scratch. You should even be able to Patent really complex concept advances that take years to develop, and then the associated implementation. You wan't to patent that software, OK code it and prove it works, then we'll think about it.

What's really the problem is that software companies are patenting really simple concepts that any competant IT professional could think up, if needed. I've never quite worked out how they manage to get the patents, do patent offices in the US not understand coding?

In theory, you can't patent something anyone could think of, or something that's already been done.

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PT

Yes but

"I've never quite worked out how they manage to get the patents, do patent offices in the US not understand coding?"

In the United States, patents are granted automatically (on payment of the proper fee) under the Attorneys Full Employment Act, which states that you can get a patent on the color green if you pay for it, and the details will be thrashed out over the next two decades by armies of lawyers.

What's always puzzled me is why software companies are allowed to get away with patenting something, then copyrighting the same thing, and then saying you can't even read it because you don't own it, just license it.

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No such thing as 'IP'

However much some might like to cast Richard Stallman as a weirdo, you can't fault his logic. He steadfastly insists that anyone who tries to lump together copyright and patents as 'IP' is either ignorant or dishonest. In this case, I'd be inclined to think dishonest.

To paraphrase RMS, "anything you know about copyright, you can be sure the opposite is true of patents". Yet are SAS trying to express a US software patent as an EU copyright issue. That's classic IP lawyer-think.

It's interesting to think that this might actually help clarify the issues. IP as a catch-all term is meaningless because it lumps together mutually exclusive and incompatible concepts.

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Thumb Up

At long last (ish)

Some common sense

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Happy

Scary stuff isn't it... and my doctor told me I must cut down on the popcorn!

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Coat

Err

While I do agree with the statement, I normally have a hard time believing anything coming from a Bot. Mines the coat that looks like Eliza.

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Anonymous Coward

deJAVA vu

It same sort thing Oracle is claming in case with Google over use of Java in Andriod.

Seriously Oracle is trying to claim the copyright over API's. If Oracle wins this case they just might end up wishing they didn't, what if like IBM then sue's Oracle over SQL API. Talk about shoting one own self in the foot there.

Where will this madness end!

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FAIL

Presumably....

...winning the case is not what SAS are after. What they are looking o do is tie World development down, and put them to the cost of defending a long court case.

Than you, Microsoft and SCO, you have added a new dimension to business competition....

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Thumb Up

Thumbs up to Mr Bot!

Some very useful things can come out of Europe!

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Black Helicopters

Hmm, this could get interesting.

Let's see what the ECJ has to say. If they follow what's been said so far, I see two possible outcomes.

1) The EU Commission (who have already made some nasty noises about their love for software patents - best politicians you can buy they are) has a hissy fit and issues a directive overturning this.

2) The US howls to the WTO over how the feckless Europeans are ignoring "valid" patents. Roll dice for which way that one goes.

There's waaaay too much money involved for the potential third option (everyone gives up on the idea) to even be considered.

Either way, there's popcorn in it.

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Anonymous Coward

H42^2 as Rev Dodgson would have said

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