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Re: Freaky copyright laws [was: SUN RPC code is DFSG-free]



On Mon, Aug 25, 2003 at 12:02:56PM +0100, Andrew Suffield wrote:
> On Sun, Aug 24, 2003 at 10:39:02PM -0500, Branden Robinson wrote:
> > On Sun, Aug 24, 2003 at 10:29:40PM +0100, Andrew Suffield wrote:
> > > On Sun, Aug 24, 2003 at 04:12:08PM -0500, Branden Robinson wrote:
> > > > I freely admit that this analysis is grounded on U.S.-centric notions of
> > > > reverse engineering and "originality" as a relevant concept to
> > > > copyright.  In other jurisdictions, copyrights more closely resemble
> > > > patents, and independent innovation is no defense to a claim of
> > > > copyright infringement.
> > > 
> > > Good grief, there are jurisdictions where copyright law follows the
> > > first-finder-is-keeper system used by patents? I'm not sure that free
> > > software can work at all with laws like that.
> > > 
> > > Do you have a list? I want to avoid visiting such countries.
> > 
> > I thought basically every place outside the U.S. was like that.  Several
> > times when the U.S. Supreme Court decision of _Feist v. Rural Telephone
> > Service Co._ has come up, it's been ridiculed by some Europeans.
> 
> [I can't think of anything in UK copyright law that would behave this
> way for software].
> 
> I'm pretty certain that reverse engineering is explicitly permitted by
> an EU directive nowadays, which would trump any freaky national laws
> like that.

It's fundamental in EU copyright law anyway:

"A computer program shall be protected if it is original in the sense
that it is the author's own intellectual creation. No other criteria
shall be applied to determine its eligibility for protection."

 -- Directive 91/250/EEC, article 1, paragraph 3

It seems to me that this permits independent innovation (just because
my creation happens to be the same as yours, does not change the fact
that it is my original creation), so we're clear in the US and EU.

While not directly relevant, this is also interesting, from the
preamble:

"Whereas, in respect of the criteria to be applied in determining
whether or not a computer program is an original work, no tests as to
the qualitative or aesthetic merits of the program should be applied"

-- 
  .''`.  ** Debian GNU/Linux ** | Andrew Suffield
 : :' :  http://www.debian.org/ |
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