what is software and how it is protected (was Re: GFDL (was: EU Copyright..))

Giovanni Biscuolo giovanni.biscuolo at milug.org
Mon May 20 09:01:36 UTC 2002

Sorry for I am so late, but I see there was no follow up to this
I change the subject, it is more appropriate to me :-)

Il lun, 2002-05-06 alle 22:50, João Miguel Neves ha scritto:
> On Seg, 2002-05-06 at 18:22, MJ Ray wrote:
> > goes far beyond that.  Why?  To copyright law, isn't software just another
> > written work?  We still need to say how software can be used and who can
> > republish it.
> > 
> No, to copyright law software is not just another written work.

In Europe, the Council Directive 91/250/EC on the legal protection of
comuputer programs states (art. 1) that computer programs are protected
al literary works within the meaning of the Berne Convention.

> There
> are specific restrictions that only apply to software,

Absolutely true, but they are additional provisions, not *different*

> like the
> prohibition of decompiling

Absolutely *wrong*. It's a whide spread mistake (what a pity).
The same directive states:
Art. 6. Decompilation.
1. the authorization of the rightholder shall not be required where the
reproduction of the code and translation of its form [...] are
indispensable to obtain the information necessary to achieve the
interoperability [...]

In EU Community, Decompiling is under restrictions, not prohibited. I
hope the same applies to the rest of the world :-).

> and the protection given to databases.

Databases are not software and are not "protected" by the same laws.

> Some
> countries even go further than that, by not allowing circumvention of
> some technical protection measurements.

This are the very new development of copyright. :-(

Anyway, EUCD clearly states that the whole directive (2001/29/EC) does
in no way affect the legal protection of *computer programs* (art. 1:
Furthermore, "whereas # 50" states that the legal protection of tech
measures (provided in EUCD) should not apply to the protection of tech
measures used in connection with computer programs, which is exclusively
addressed in that Directive (91/250/EC). Also EUCD should neither
inhibit nor prevent the development or use of any means of circumventing
a tech measure that is necessary to enable acts to be undertaken in
accordance with Art. 5 (exceptions to restricted acts) or Art. 6
(decompiling). [1]

It seems that in USA, with DMCA, the situation is a little bit

> So no, software is not just
> another written work, nor in copyright law, nor in its own nature.
> -- 
>					João Miguel Neves

[1] I argue that, for example, DeCCs (please forget upper/lowercase)
should be legal in Europe even with EUCD enacted. Where I am wrong!?!?
Art and science are free and free is their teaching [IT Const., art.33]
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