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EU Court of Justice Rules: 'Programming Languages May Not Be Protected By Copyright'

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EU Court of Justice Rules: 'Programming Languages May Not Be Protected By Copyright'

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The ongoing case of Oracle v. Google has brought to light a problematic dispute over the copyright of certain parts of the Java language.  Coincidentally, the EU Court of Justice ruled on a similar case today.  World Programming Ltd. is a UK-based company whose World Programming System emulated similar functionality to the SAS Language.  In the case of SAS v. WPL, the EU Court of Justice has ruled that

. . . ideas and principles which underlie any element of a computer program, including those which underlie its interfaces, are not protected by copyright under that directive

-- EU Court of Justice Press Release

Apparently, in order to develop the World Programing System, WPL legally acquired the Learning Edition of the SAS system, and used these programs as a basis for developing their own.  The court has recognized that there is no evidence of source code being copied in this case.  The decision here is interesting, indeed, as the ruling is not only in favor of WPL, but is in favor of "ideas and principles" of the World Programming System.  

In the case of Oracle v. Google, there is a similar issue at play.  Pamela Jones has pointed out the issue of extending copyright too far by suggesting the following:

That's how it's supposed to be in the US, too, although Oracle is trying to spread copyright further than it has traditionally gone, to cover the structure, sequence and organization of APIs.

-- Pamela Jones, Groklaw

Jones' opinion is certainly sensible, but we'd like to know what you think about this news too.  Leave us your comments below. 

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