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Ah, yes, but, no, but. | 147 comments | Create New Account
Comments belong to whoever posts them. Please notify us of inappropriate comments.
Why not copyrightable? n/t
Authored by: Anonymous on Friday, July 05 2013 @ 05:55 PM EDT

[ Reply to This | Parent | # ]

Ah, yes, but, no, but.
Authored by: Ian Al on Saturday, July 06 2013 @ 05:20 AM EDT
Copyright exists for creative expression fixed in a medium. The law prohibits copying the creative expression fixed in the medium without a license.

The courts seem to have accepted that a song committed to print on a stave together with lyrics is protectable by copyright.

Symphonies from centuries past with modest changes by recent score editors have, similarly, been protected by copyright.

I have a huge repertoire of songs and tunes that I play by ear. My music reading skills are such that life is too short to use the score: I listen to copyright protected performances.

The sheet music is protected from my unlicensed copying by the law, because the sheets are deemed by the courts to be creative expression fixed in the medium of printed paper.

When I play a tune, I am not copying someone else's performance fixed in a medium and I am not copying someone's copyright sheet music. I am copying the musical ideas used to create the sheet music and the performances.

The law says that I am not prevented by copyright from what I do. The courts say otherwise. I think that their thinking must be that to read a book is not illegal copying, but to then recite the book to someone else constitutes illegal copying.

In US law terms I think that the courts actions are strictly illegal, but fulfil the meaning and intent of the Constitution to protect creative expression.

The courts must vigorously draw the line at significant creative expression. Attempts to protect APIs, lists and other factual data fixed in a medium such as source code must be resisted at all costs, even if it makes protecting software from copying, much harder. Only the creative expression in software is protectable by law and that extends only to that creative expression fixed into the medium of the source code text file.

RangeCheck is unprotectable by US law because it does not contain creative expression sufficient to raise it above all the other range check program snippets written over the decades. An analysis of the twelve lines reveals that most of the lines have no creative expression because they have to be of that form for the Java language. Any creative expression that does exist in one or two lines is so insignificant as to be overlooked. The value in RangeCheck is in the uncopyrightable idea of checking data value limits and not in the creative expression used to express those ideas in source code.
THE COURT: RangeCheck. All it does is it makes sure that the numbers you're inputting are within a range. And if they're not, they give it some kind of exceptional treatment. It is so -- that witness, when he said a high school student would do this, is absolutely right.
To paraphrase the judge, 'any high school student could write Java code to implement the idea of making sure that the numbers you're inputting are within a range. And if they're not, they give it some kind of exceptional treatment'. There is no discussion about whether the actual author of RangeCheck used protectable creative expression in writing his source code. The law only protects creative expression fixed in a medium.

Of course, the courts do not apply the law: they apply the court conventions for cases related to software. Eventually, however, they must return to first principles and consider what the Constitution and Congress intended to be protected by copyright.

Ian Al
Software Patents: It's the disclosed functions in the patent, stupid!

[ Reply to This | Parent | # ]

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