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I'm going to go with albert on this one | 118 comments | Create New Account
Comments belong to whoever posts them. Please notify us of inappropriate comments.
I'm going to go with albert on this one
Authored by: Wol on Sunday, July 07 2013 @ 03:47 PM EDT
Google's argument is, simply put, that any expression that can't be worked round
is not copyrightable.

So, for example, the text that *defines* the RangeCheck function is not

How you actually implement it is copyrightable. But given the restricted options
available, and the conventions that govern it, there is a good chance that even
an identical copy is not a copyright violation, but an independent

Given that, copyright protection HAS to be weak, otherwise we would get back to
the copyrighting of ideas, which is not (under US law) legal.


[ Reply to This | Parent | # ]

Sorry to be obstinate.
Authored by: Ian Al on Monday, July 08 2013 @ 03:52 AM EDT
The dictionary definition of 'expression':
3: the communication (in speech or writing) of your beliefs or opinions; "expressions of good will"; "he helped me find verbal expression for my ideas"; "the idea was immediate but the verbalism took hours"
As an example, I might express my beliefs in a fixed medium by writing the text of the King James' bible in a notebook. I cannot protect that expression fixed in a medium by using copyright law. The law says that I can only copyright my original authorship.

In the same way, if I write text in my own words, it is not the written expression of meaning, idea, procedure, process, system, method of operation, concept, principle, or discovery, regardless of the form in which it is described, explained, illustrated, or embodied in such work, that can be protected by copyright. Only those parts that constitute original works of authorship can be protected.

The law is explicit on those written expressions fixed in a medium which cannot be protected by copyright.

17 USC ยง 102 - Subject matter of copyright:
(b) In no case does copyright protection for an original work of authorship extend to any idea, procedure, process, system, method of operation, concept, principle, or discovery, regardless of the form in which it is described, explained, illustrated, or embodied in such work.
So expression which only addresses those things cannot be protected by copyright. The expression must be an original work of authorship when all of those exclusions are filtered out of consideration. Please note that the quoted law does not deal with the copying of ideas. It is only to do with protection from copying of written expression fixed in a medium. That is the idea-expression dichotomy that they address.

The courts see no bright line and say that each case and each part of the expression must be considered in its own right.

"The search parameters are 'It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was a period in history'".
Just because the text is my original expression fixed in a medium, that does not automatically give me copyright protection. Is it an infringement of copyright? The original authorship must be considered by the court in its own right after the exclusions have been removed from consideration.

For instance, 'The search parameters are' does not surmount the hurdle of 'original authorship' and is more an expression of process. Similarly, 'it was a period in history' is purely factual and has no original authorship of mine. As for the rest, only heaven and the courts know. As dio gratia quoted from Baker v. Selden:
Congress presumably intended to relate the idea-expression dichotomy to the nature of a work, and not simply to the test of substantial similarity.

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

[ Reply to This | Parent | # ]

As am I
Authored by: cjk fossman on Monday, July 08 2013 @ 06:57 PM EDT
In the early 1990s I set about to render the impenetrable and
inhuman jargon of ISO 9001 into plain US English.

The then-current version of ISO 9001 bristled with phrases such
as "the organization shall establish and maintain documented
procedures for <yada yada and blah>.

Cowed by the draconian language of ISO's copyright claims, I did
some research into this idea vs. expression question.

I concluded that it would be unwise to copy the "establish and
maintain" statements and then parse them into plain US English.
It would have been fair use, I think, but since fair use is such
a gray area I chose to eschew this approach.

I also concluded that it would be okay for me to write things
like, "ISO 9001 says your company must have a written procedure
for <yada ...>. It also says you must keep the procedure

By doing so I would express the _idea_ of the requirement
without plagiarizing the expression of it.

I decided I could go even further by writing things like this:

ISO 9001 says your company has to have written procedures for:
- yada
- yada yada
- blah

I'm sure my efforts never came to the attention of ISO.
However, a cottage industry sprang up to write and publish books
to achieve what my writing set out to do. Certainly ISO knew of
some of these, and I doubt they sued anyone over it.

I do not think such a suit would be successful.

[ Reply to This | Parent | # ]

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