Saturday, March 11, 2006

Copyrighing and Software

Recently on the CyberProf list someone raised a question as to whether software should have been made subject to copyright.

Here is what I said in response:

Remeber that the Supreme Court has never held that software is copyrightable and that the copyright Act provides that: "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." Programs are algorithms, or implementations of algorithms, and thus are "ideas" as that term is used by the Court in Gottschalk v. Benson. Programs consist of "procedures" and are "processes" that run on processors. Programs clearly are "methods of operation"---they are methods of operating a computer. And programs are always, though usually only on a very small scale, discoveries: "Ah, that's how to do it," says the programmer to himself.

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