European Union Court Rules that Software Functions Cannot Be Copyrighted


In a recent decision, SAS Institute Inc. v. World Programming Ltd., the Court of Justice of the European Union held that “[s]ince a program’s functionality, its programming language and the format of its data files, are merely elements of a program as opposed to expressions that would enable it to be reproduced, they are outside the scope of protection afforded by the Software Directive.”

SAS Institute alleged copyright infringement by World Programming after World Programming developed a competing set of programs that enabled users to run World Programming programs with the original SAS Institute system.

The European High Court stated that if a third party obtains parts of a source code or object code relating to the programming language or data files in a particular program, then use of that code to create similar elements in a competing computer program could be considered copyright infringement. In this case, however, World Programming had no access to the SAS Institute source code, but merely observed and studied the SAS Institute system. Furthermore, World Programming used legally obtained copies of the SAS Institute system. Thus, World Programming did not infringe SAS’ copyright.

Please see full alert below for more information.

LOADING PDF: If there are any problems, click here to download the file.

Written by:

Published In:

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

© Squire Patton Boggs | Attorney Advertising

Don't miss a thing! Build a custom news brief:

Read fresh new writing on compliance, cybersecurity, Dodd-Frank, whistleblowers, social media, hiring & firing, patent reform, the NLRB, Obamacare, the SEC…

…or whatever matters the most to you. Follow authors, firms, and topics on JD Supra.

Create your news brief now - it's free and easy »

All the intelligence you need, in one easy email:

Great! Your first step to building an email digest of JD Supra authors and topics. Log in with LinkedIn so we can start sending your digest...

Sign up for your custom alerts now, using LinkedIn ›

* With LinkedIn, you don't need to create a separate login to manage your free JD Supra account, and we can make suggestions based on your needs and interests. We will not post anything on LinkedIn in your name.