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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.
You can copyright _any_ expression,
Authored by: albert on Sunday, July 07 2013 @ 01:19 PM EDT
on any subject. Writing is just a collection of words and phrases, arranged in
a particular order. That 'arrangement' is the copyrightable work. You can't
copyright individual words and phrases. It's a deterrent to someone copying your
work. Often, the line between plagiarism and original work must be decided in
court.

The law specifies that the copyright does not "...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..."

Oracle, I believe, is trying to do just that. They're trying to make copyright
law function as patent law, using smoke, mirrors, and hand waving. They want to
own the ideas.

Copyright law, as we quoted (17 USC 102b), specifically prohibits this.

How many of us have written RangeCheck-like functions? Odds are, some will use
the same code, because of the tight restrictions on proper syntax enforced by
the programming language, and the requirement to make it fast and tight. The
fact that the expressions of the function are similar has no bearing. Enforcing
a copyright on your version, prohibits anyone else from writing such a function.
This is not the intent of the law, IMO.

Say, Oracle, try patenting the RangeCheck function, and see how far that gets
ya.



[ Reply to This | Parent | # ]

I'm going to go with albert on this one
Authored by: hardmath on Sunday, July 07 2013 @ 03:25 PM EDT

My understanding is that copyright extends to the (fixed) form of original expression, even where a work expresses belief, opinion, or a software program.

As albert says, this protection does not extend beyond the form of original expression to cover underlying/incapsulated/implemented ideas or functions. Infringement must be tied to copying the form of expression, whether literally or as a derivative work.

When there is a conflict, as when copying is done for the sake of a method of operation, Google cited case law to the effect that the right to independently implement a compatible method of operation defeats the copyright protection, but only to the extent necessary for such implementation. E.g. copying a header file might be infringing if the file also contains extensive comments that are expressive of the author's design philosophy or development history. Thus the filtration test: elements that are not necessary for a functional purpose retain their protectability.

I cannot read Google's brief as you seem to. Their logic seems to be that a functional purpose weakens the extent of copyright protection without eliminating it. I'm not familiar with a court ruling that an original expression did not deserve copyright protection because it expressed beliefs or opinions (which would seem to be normative of documents prepared before the computer era). Certainly the US Congress amended copyright statutes in 1980 to included software programs as protectable works.

---
Rosser's trick: "For every proof of me, there is a shorter proof of my negation".

[ Reply to This | Parent | # ]

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