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From: Matej Kovacic
Subject: SAS v. WPL
Date: Wed, 02 May 2012 21:10:22 +0200
User-agent: Mozilla/5.0 (X11; Linux x86_64; rv:11.0) Gecko/20120410 Thunderbird/11.0.1


this is not directly related to PSPP, but could be very interesting. It
is a court ruling on a case, when someone created a clone of SAS
statistical package:

In short:
The EU Court of justice has just ruled in SAS v. WPL, that you can't
copyright a computer language or computer functionality.


SAS Institute Inc. has developed the SAS System, an integrated set of
programs which enables users to carry out data processing and analysis
tasks, in particular statistical analysis. The core component of the SAS
System is called Base SAS. It enables users to write and execute
application programs (also known as ‘scripts’) written in the SAS
programming language for data processing.

World Programming Ltd (WPL) perceived that there was a market demand for
alternative software capable of executing application programs written
in the SAS Language. WPL therefore produced the World Programming System
(WPS). The latter emulates functionalities of the SAS components to a
large extent in that, with a few minor exceptions, WPL attempted to
ensure that the same inputs would produce the same outputs. This would
enable users of the SAS System to run the scripts which they have
developed for use with the SAS System on WPS.

In order to produce the WPS program, WPL lawfully acquired copies of the
Learning Edition of the SAS System, which were supplied under licences
limiting the rights of the licensee to non- production purposes. WPL
used and studied those programs in order to understand their functioning
but there is nothing to suggest that WPL had access to or copied the
source code of the SAS components.

SAS Institute brought an action before the High Court in the UK,
accusing WPL of having copied the SAS System manuals and components,
thus infringing its copyright and the terms of the Learning Edition
licence. In that context, the High Court has put questions to the Court
of Justice regarding the scope of the legal protection conferred by EU
law on computer programs and, in particular, whether that protection
extends to programming functionality and language.

The Court recalls, first, that the Directive on the legal protection of
computer programs1 extends copyright protection to the expression in any
form of an intellectual creation of the author of a computer program.1
However, 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.

Thus, only the expression of those ideas and principles is protected by
copyright. The object of the protection conferred by Directive 91/250 is
the expression in any form of a computer program, such as the source
code and the object code, which permits reproduction in different
computer languages. On the basis of those considerations, the Court
holds that neither the functionality of a computer program nor the
programming language and the format of data files used in a computer
program in order to exploit certain of its functions constitute a form
of expression. Accordingly, they do not enjoy copyright protection.



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