|Authored by: Anonymous on Friday, July 05 2013 @ 05:55 PM EDT|
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|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
The courts seem to have accepted that a song committed to
print on a stave together with lyrics is protectable by
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
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
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.
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.
Software Patents: It's the disclosed functions in the patent, stupid!
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