In May we heard the latest ruling from the EU concerning copyright protection for software – a full rundown on this can be found here: http://uk.reuters.com/article/2012/05/02/uk-eu-copyright-software-idUKBRE8410O720120502
In short, this new ruling gives developers greater freedom to produce software that may compete and compliment other existing programs across a range of different sectors. Following on from the SAS Institute vs World Programming case (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/SAS_Institute_lawsuit_with_World_Programming) of copyright infringement, the court have ruled that copyright infringement law covers source coding and object code, but not ideas or principles that were conceived to engineer the software in the first place. This has led British based World Programming to be the winners in this particular outcome, largely due to the fact they did not have any access to the source coding of SAS Institute’s programs, so the case was very much based on functionality of the product only.
To give a bit of background, World Programming are UK based developers, who have developed and distributed a software called WPS, that is focused on analysis, management, reporting and processing of data. It is written in SAS language. SAS Institute is a world wide provider of business analytical software, based in the USA, and class themselves as the leader in today’s marketplace in this field.
As developers ourselves, this is obviously something we’ve been following closely, with particular interest on the outcome. Whilst none of our software infringes any copyright laws, the outcome following from this ruling may make a ripple across the development world, as more developers and companies strive to make a living in a development marketplace that is already heavily saturated in certain areas and sectors. Given that this is just the latest in a long line of copyright infringement cases over the years, and World Programming did always openly admit they used SAS’ manuals as guides whilst developing, should there have been a harsher ruling based on this?
What do you think to the ruling? Should further leeway be given to developers in this way? Where do you stand on this? Let us know in the comments below.