Advocate General Yves Bot advice to the EU’s top court that programming language can not be copyrighted will surely affect IT industry. He has compared programming language to the language used by novelist and arufued that programming languages are mere diffrent digital vocabularies such as HTML, JAVA used to make computer perform certain tasks. This opinion arises from the case between North Carolina based SAS institute against British Firm World Prograaming Limited. The advocate’s general opinion is not binding on Luxembourg Based EU court of Justice abut court follows attorney’s general advice in 80% of the cases.
SAS creates a SAS system, a set of software progarm to collect and analyse data. Only SAS language works on SAS system, making to total vendor lock in. World Programming Limited has created a alternate system where SAS system can be run without SAS language. SAS has contended that World Programming Limited has wrongly used the license of SAS Learning Edition. The high court of England has already ruled against SAS.
Lets understand with the example coated – ” Let me give a specific example. Where a programmer decides to develop a computer program for airline ticket reservations, that software will contain a multitude of functionalities needed to make a booking. The computer program will have to be able, in turn, to find the flight requested by the user, check availability, book the seat, register the user’s details, take online payment details and, finally, edit the user’s electronic ticket. All of those functionalities, those actions, are dictated by a specific and limited purpose. In this, therefore, they are similar to an idea. It is therefore legitimate for computer programs to exist which offer the same functionalities.
In other words, the actual written code behind a function is protected by copyright, but the function is not. So, if you arrive at the same function but with entirely different code, you are not infringing any copyright. “To accept that a functionality of a computer program can be protected as such would amount to making it possible to monopolise ideas, to the detriment of technological progress and industrial development,” Bot writes.