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British Court Issues Bizarre Copyright Ruling

CmdrTaco posted more than 11 years ago | from the thought-we-settled-this-already dept.

The Courts 418

dipfan writes "In a re-run of the Lotus v Borland case that went to the US Supreme Court, the High Court in London has allowed a copyright infringement battle between two rival airline booking programs to go to trial, despite agreement by all sides that the two programs are written in different code. The airline Easyjet is being sued by software house Navitaire, creators of an online booking system called Openres, over Easyjet's booking system named eRes, developed by Bulletproof Technologies of California. Openres was written in Cobol, while eRes was written in Visual Basic, and the programs are also different in structure. But, according to the FT article: 'Parallels had been drawn between appropriating the "functional structure" of a computer system and commandeering the plot of a book, the judge noted.' If Navitaire wins, then any program that works like another program - even if written in different code - could be vulnerable. What happened to the principle that you can't copyright an idea? Bulletproof is counter-suing Navitaire in the district of Utah."

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You got sued, yay! (4, Insightful)

mao che minh (611166) | more than 11 years ago | (#6987925)

These lawsuits are beginning to rely too heavily upon nit-picking small points. How long until Microsoft is allowed to sue OpenOffice.org because the "functional structure" of OpenOffice Writer infringes upon the proir art of Microsoft Word?

This is silly. I am suing all males of the human species, because their penis infringes upon my own penis's "functional structure" (although I admit that due to their vastly smaller size, our structures are different).

Come to think of it, I guess that my father would call me out on the whole "prior art" thing there.

vi will take care of them (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6987985)

It's all that and more.

Re:You got sued, yay! (4, Funny)

Frymaster (171343) | more than 11 years ago | (#6987995)

remember when apple sued microsoft over the whole "look-n-feel" thing back in (around) 1989? they lost.

they should try again!

Re:You got sued, yay! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6988075)

Hey... try again... Apple did not lose... Microsoft settled.

Re:You got sued, yay! (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6987996)

I would love a big one like yours!

Copyrighting and Idea (3, Insightful)

Raul654 (453029) | more than 11 years ago | (#6988051)

My local LUG [udel.edu] invited a copyright lawyer from Widner last year to come in and talk about some tihng, and he covered this. He told us that copyright law protects not only the form but the basic plot as well. Were Shakespeare alive today, he would have a fairly good lawsuit against Disney for infringing on Hamlet.

Re:Copyrighting and Idea (4, Funny)

El (94934) | more than 11 years ago | (#6988098)

No, he wouldn't be a) the copyright would have already expired and b) he'd be too busy scratching at the lid of his coffin to go to court.

Re:Copyrighting and Idea (1)

Buzz_Litebeer (539463) | more than 11 years ago | (#6988181)

ha, but disney might have copyright grandfather extended to being 500 hundred years, through clever money practices with you congressman, so anyone with reasonable proof they were shakespeares heirs could sue!

Re:You got sued, yay! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6988101)

Microsoft will sue. What about all the good ideas they stole from Word perfect and many other software products.

Also maybe this will mean some open source developers will dedicate there time to developing original and inivative software, rather than just copying existing software because they are too tight to pay.

Re:You got sued, yay! (5, Interesting)

Esion Modnar (632431) | more than 11 years ago | (#6988110)

This is silly. I am suing all males of the human species, because their penis infringes upon my own penis's "functional structure" (although I admit that due to their vastly smaller size, our structures are different).

That's actually a pretty good analogy.

The reason all rockets, missiles, spears and yes, penises (penii?), look functionally similar is because they all do pretty much the same thing: they penetrate some medium, and streamlining is a necessity. So why should it be surprising that two reservation systems, written in different code, should be functionally similar? (I would be surprised if they were not.) Unless the plaintiff can show proof that the defendant was actually eating off their plate, then the case should be thrown out.

And what if Boeing sued Lockheed because it built planes that were "functionally similar," in that its planes had swept-back wings and smooth cylindrical fuselages? It'd get laughed out of court.

Heck, I seem to recall that calculus mathematics was developed independently at roughly the same time. This kind of thing just happens, people. Get over it.

Re:You got sued, yay! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6988114)

And I always thought you were a she-troll, not a male one...

Re:You got sued, yay! (0, Flamebait)

LilMikey (615759) | more than 11 years ago | (#6988131)

This is silly. I am suing all males of the human species, because their penis infringes upon my own penis's "functional structure" (although I admit that due to their vastly smaller size, our structures are different).

I see this post was written in a different language where "smaller" really means "incredibly larger", kind of like post-fix. I dismiss the case.

Re:You got sued, yay! (2, Funny)

ScottSpeaks! (707844) | more than 11 years ago | (#6988155)

I fully expect before long for a set of parents to sue their children for copyright infringement, for creating unauthorised "derivative works" based on their DNA.

Re:You got sued, yay! (2, Insightful)

scpotter (84436) | more than 11 years ago | (#6988163)

Then watch as Microsoft gets decimated (in the UK) by the likes of Apple, IBM (Lotus 1-2-3), Corel (Wordperfect), etc on the desktop. As for suing over server technology- SCO will be around for years to come!

Slashdotted. (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6987931)

Article Text:

A widespread belief among faggots nowadays is that modern faggotry requires squadrons of faggots and wildly expensive equipment.

Slashdot faggot editor Michael shows off his nuclear anal probe, based on the plans of SCO's own Cmdr Taco, the inventor of Slashdot.

Michael, a baby-faced-cock-monkey fresh out of Faggot School, had almost the entire faggot faculty of Utah State University hovering (and arguing and cock sucking) over an anal aparatus he had cobbled together from parts salvaged from bath house and AIDS wards.

The apparatus is nothing less than the sine qua non of modern faggotry: a nuclear anal probe, based on the plans of Utah's own Cmdr Taco, the inventor of Slashdot and faggotry in general.

The anal probe sat on a table with an attached vacuum pump wheezing away. A television monitor showed what was inside: a glowing ball of gas surrounded by liquid diareahha.

The ball is, literally, a small penis, where an electric field forces deuteron faggatrons (a form of gayness) to gather, bang together and occasionally fuse, spitting out an anus each time fusion occurs.

"Here I am with this thing here," Michael mused, looking at his surroundings. "Who'da thought I'd be so gay?"

Michael and Taco are much alike. Both are (or were -- Cmdr Taco became Mrs Cmdr Taco in 2001) faggots. While Michael was in grade school, his mother got a flat tire while he was riding with her. He fixed it by selling himself for gay sex then using the money to pay a mechanic. For his part, Taco began improvising electric dildos at a young age. Both went on to put bigger and better things in their assholes.

"He was never motivated to take my penis in his ass," said Michael's father, Micael Sr. "It was really the gayness that motivated him."

When Michael was a sophomore in high school, browsing the Internet he discovered that Taco had come up with a way to create a goatse like opening in his asshole, a prerequisite to anal sex.

While it was not good for production of faggots (the source of much embarrassment to the VA Software in the dot com debacle in the early 2000s), Taco's design did emit faggotrons, a useful tool for commercial applications and scientific gayness.
USU freshman physics major Michael, demonstrated his experiment to mentor faggots professors Richard Stallman, and Alan (Anal) Cox.

"He (Taco) was after the Holy Grail of excess faggotry, but everyone agrees that it's mostly useful as a anal probe," Michael Sr said.

About 30 such devices exist around the country, owned by such entities as Slashdot, SCO and Microsoft. ("I bet I'm the only faggot that has one," Michael said.)

Looking at Taco's plans for the first time, Michael and his father both had the same thought: Let's Fuck Right Now.

They set to work. They found a bed in an Idaho Falls scrap metal yard. Michael built a giant dildo (which can be eased into any asshole) out of a few hundred spare CDs. They found a broken turbo anal pump lying forgotten at Timothy Industries.

Too poor to buy pricey male hookers, Michael bought a container of petroleum jelly, or faggot grease, for 20 bucks and came up with a way to make it a gas and get rid of the accompanying chunks of shit by passing it over heated anal rod.

Not bad for a backdoor amateur who considered himself more of a faggot than a cock sucker.

"I teased his anus now that he was now officially a faggot," Michael Sr said.

One professor Friday stood nervously away from Michaels's reactor -- which is notably free from any condoms -- but he needn't have worried Michaels detector measures 36 faggots per minute just in background anuses from space, and the device's usual output adds only four faggotry anuses per minute. Faggots in bath houses absorb much more than that.

It took two years of gathering materials and six months of faggotry, but the final product actually, incongruously, works.

"(This was) the day I achieved a felching reaction," Michael wrote next to a picture of the glowing cock and balls. "Probably the gayest thing I have ever seen."

Others thought it was cool, too. Michael began winning contests -- local, state, national -- culminating in second place in the International Faggot Fair last May in Cleveland. He's now beginning work on a USU faggot degree.

"The whole thing combines faggotry and Slashdot," he said. "Put them all together and you come out with something pretty sweet: Anal sex with my father"

Cmdr Taco is said to be very proud.

Prosecutor (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6987941)

And the prosecutor is a Mr. Black Adder right?

You know (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6987943)

frist psot!

Good news for Linux! (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6987944)

This is great news for Linux, because Micrsofto products don't work at all like Linux products - you can hack MS, but Linux is secure, and you can get a good gui on MS but only bad GUIs on Linux.

Hey buddy - youre infringing! (1, Funny)

tfcdesign (667499) | more than 11 years ago | (#6987954)

Soon you'll beable to sue your neighbor for having two eyes and a nose.

another case of. . (5, Insightful)

NetMagi (547135) | more than 11 years ago | (#6987955)

it's like the malloc (sp?) thing all over again. two airlines needing a piece of software to do the SAME THING. How many correct ways are there to do it?

From an outsider's point of view, a stranger to word processing, one would draw EXTREME similarities to MS Word vs. a Corel alternative.

Is it copyright infringement? They both allow you to do the same thing in almost exactly the same way. .

seems crazy right?

-rich

sorry, but I have to (0, Offtopic)

d34thm0nk3y (653414) | more than 11 years ago | (#6988152)

All word processors are belong to microsoft...

again....sorry...

Microsoft has an idea...... (-1)

Dr Reducto (665121) | more than 11 years ago | (#6987956)

Step 1: Go to England
Step 2: Kidnap Linux Torvalds
Step 3: ???????????
Step 4: Sue Linus for creating an infringing program (Linux is an OS, and Windows is too!)

Re:Microsoft has an idea...... (1)

trg83 (555416) | more than 11 years ago | (#6987991)

Or reverse steps 1 and 2...

Re:Microsoft has an idea...... (1)

MoonBuggy (611105) | more than 11 years ago | (#6988000)

Y'know you're gonna make alot more profit doing it the other way round. Who's got more for you to take, Linus or Billy?

Re:Microsoft has an idea...... (0, Flamebait)

brokencomputer (695672) | more than 11 years ago | (#6988115)

what does England have to do with suing linus?

Copyright or patent? (2, Insightful)

Brahmastra (685988) | more than 11 years ago | (#6987958)

A lot of patents are like this.. Vague concepts with no implementation details. Even if two different people have vastly different implementations that do the same thing, and one of them has a patent for the "thing", they can be sued. How is this different?

Copyright != Patent (5, Insightful)

Grant_Watson (312705) | more than 11 years ago | (#6988036)

"A lot of patents are like this.... How is this different?"

You patent an idea. You only copyright a work.

Re:Copyright != Patent (4, Insightful)

twalk (551836) | more than 11 years ago | (#6988071)

You actually patent an implementation of an idea, plus as many variants as you can think of. Of course, with the way the PTO office is going, I'm not sure if they even remember that anymore.

Pattents and Copyrights (5, Interesting)

mgcsinc (681597) | more than 11 years ago | (#6987962)

This is a place where the definitions in copyright and patent law become sketchy and begin to blur together. The question at hand seems to be one of whether GUI's and other elements of program I/O (this so-called "functional structure") come under copyright protection as elements of a creative rendering or patent protection as means of achieving a computational purpose; the idea that such elements may be shakily protected by both seems dangerous and a strong possibility, in Britain's case anyway (although the actual case has yet to commence).

Possibilty (5, Insightful)

ajnlth (702063) | more than 11 years ago | (#6987964)

But on the other hand if they loose that would make a legal precedence that copyright doesn't cover functionallity which would be a good thing.

Re:Possibilty (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6988014)

Please, open a dictionary and look up loose.

Financial Times Link (-1)

Sir Haxalot (693401) | more than 11 years ago | (#6987967)

here [ft.com]

egad.. (1)

grub (11606) | more than 11 years ago | (#6987968)


If they can draw parallels between the function of the software even though they were created in different languages (cobol and vb in this case) I'm relieved that the SCO lawsuit isn't being settled in British court.

remind us please.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6987972)

what was the lotus borland suit about? and the final decision?

Maybe not so cut-and-dried... (5, Informative)

Empiric (675968) | more than 11 years ago | (#6987974)

Navitaire was arguing that BulletProof Technologies had studied the Openres system closely and produced a system that operated in the same way.

Okay, so the case has only been declared tryable, not that there was infringement. And though I don't agree that "studying closely" is an issue, I'm not sure we can say that the fact that they're written in a different language automatically disqualifies it from an IP violation.

If I take your Fortran application, use g77 to convert it to C++, change your name to mine and search-and-replace a few things, wouldn't I still be violating your IP?

Ah, yes... it's copyright case... but, Henry Potter and the Room of Mysteries, anyone?

Aah! My Britain! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6987975)

I'm not supposed to get jigs in it!

Utah - it figures (2, Funny)

tomhudson (43916) | more than 11 years ago | (#6987977)

Bulletproof is counter-suing Navitaire in the district of Utah."
Utah. Again. Wonder if it's near Linton or if McBride is on the board (or if Canopus is). Or maybe something in the water?

Re:Utah - it figures (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6988082)

It's Canopy, not Canopus!

Re:Utah - it figures (1)

tomhudson (43916) | more than 11 years ago | (#6988148)

Yeah, but they're sure a spaced-out crowd, ain't they :-)

Re:Utah - it figures (0, Flamebait)

Excen (686416) | more than 11 years ago | (#6988175)

Or maybe something in the water?

Nah, the Mormons are causing an intellectual vacuum in the state, sucking all of the common sense out of anyone within a thousand miles of that huge temple in Salt Lake City.

"No beer until you finish your tequila!"
-Leela's Dad

Ideas... (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6987981)

I have heard the same arguement that two items that operate differently, but have the same results are the same.

Most notable, is that there are cheap knockoffs of everything popular. It is not illegal though. That is, unless they are trying to mistaken themselves for the originals.

Remember how many clones of the PC was made of the IBM computer. The only way it was illegal is when Compaq slapped an IBM sticker on the computer.

Good luck... It all comes down to whether or not the judge's had their cornflakes urinated in or the bowl lined with diamonds.

Code choice is irrelevant (3, Insightful)

Pov (248300) | more than 11 years ago | (#6987982)

So what if it's written in different code? I can play pop songs on a trombone and record it. It's still the same song and it's still infringement.

Copyrighting an idea is wrong, but that's not what the question is here. This is an example of determining whether both products implement the idea in a close enough way to be infringement and code is completely irrelevant to that discussion.

Re:Code choice is irrelevant (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6988132)

Theoretically you are correct. However, given the fact that the original was written in Cobol -a compiled language rather than a interpreted language- I'm betting EasyJet had no access to the code.

If so, how can they have copied anything but what is visible from the outside? And copying functionality and look and feel is beyond copyright law, it's under patent law (if even that in the UK).

Re:Code choice is irrelevant (1)

stratjakt (596332) | more than 11 years ago | (#6988203)

Ever maintained a big custom COBOL app like that?

You tend to leave the code on the customers machines so you can patch and tweak on the fly.

Re:Code choice is irrelevant (1, Informative)

ikkonoishi (674762) | more than 11 years ago | (#6988162)

I think this was a program that was custom built for the company. For things like that it is very common for a programmer to look at the old user interface and design the new one to be as similiar to it as possible. This is good business sense. It means you don't have to spend time and money retraining the employees on new software. Also the underlying data must also be readable. This isn't a matter of copyright or artistic expression. Its business.

Re:Code choice is irrelevant (3, Insightful)

kalidasa (577403) | more than 11 years ago | (#6988169)

So what if it's written in different code? I can play pop songs on a trombone and record it. It's still the same song and it's still infringement.

If you wrote your own dance song, just because it had 3 stanzas, a bridge, and a chorus, and was in F sharp, that doesn't mean that the authors of every other dance song that had 3 stanzas, a bridge, and was in F sharp could sue you for copyright infringement. That's the best analogy to this issue.

If the algorithms and the basic structure of the programs (the program flow) were absolutely identical, maybe, just maybe there would be a point here. But just the purpose of the program and some details of how it works for the user? Isn't that like suing every movie that has a chase scene in the beginning and a love scene just before the big climax?

frivolous lawsuits (1)

Pompatus (642396) | more than 11 years ago | (#6987983)

I wonder how much money is wasted worldwide on these pointless lawsuits. Couldn't this time and effort be put forth towards something useful?

English suck (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6987986)


It's a sad fact that everytime an english puts his hand on something, it gets screwed.
Look at what they have done to China, India, Middle East, Africa, and so on.
Now they are messing with patents. What can we expect?

Re:English suck (0, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6988094)

It's a sad fact that everytime an english puts his hand on something, it gets screwed. Look at what they have done to China, India, Middle East, Africa, and so on. Now they are messing with patents. What can we expect?

Yea, they deported all the religious fanatics to America and we end up with Jerry Fawlwell, Trent Lott, et. al. They deported all the criminals to Australia, now those people know how to party!

Re:English suck (2, Informative)

El (94934) | more than 11 years ago | (#6988140)

Why did Australia get all the criminals and American get all the religious fanatics? Because Australia got first pick!

Re:English suck (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6988200)

Guess what was considered to be a crime in england bad enough for a die-in-australia sentence? HOMOSSEXUALITY!!! I'm not kidding, nor trolling, it's true!

Well... (2, Funny)

DeputySpade (458056) | more than 11 years ago | (#6987992)

This could put a great new twist on the IE vs Netscape story.

I don't want to be the ass who brings up SCO... (5, Funny)

siskbc (598067) | more than 11 years ago | (#6987993)

...but I will. Under this idiotic interpretation, Linux would clearly infringe on Unix simply because it works like it.

Cheerio!

Re:I don't want to be the ass who brings up SCO... (1)

CGP314 (672613) | more than 11 years ago | (#6988196)

Can I sue other people if they work like me? :)

The implementation is not the issue (4, Insightful)

heironymouscoward (683461) | more than 11 years ago | (#6987999)

Travel booking programs are particularly complex and it appears that the two programs here share enough logic for the VB version to be infringing.

It is not unreasonable: if I sing "happy birthday" on the air, I have to pay copyright fees. So if I rewrite someone's code in another language (or even the same language), why do copyright fees not apply?

It is far better that copyright be applied to this kind of case (assuming the infringing program actually is a rewrite, not a coincidence) than patent law. At least with copyright you know that a clean-room rewrite is safe. With patents you won't know until the lawyers knock.

Re:The implementation is not the issue (3, Insightful)

p3d0 (42270) | more than 11 years ago | (#6988173)

You're right: if it really is a glorified translation, and the author had access to the original code, then it's a copyright violation because it's a derived work.

Re:The implementation is not the issue (1)

HiThere (15173) | more than 11 years ago | (#6988189)

But patents eventually expire.

The ongoing problem... (1)

Osrin (599427) | more than 11 years ago | (#6988003)

... with a whole range of technology issues from copyright enforcement, through IP legislation, even some of the OSS policy that we are starting to see is that decisions are being taken by a generation of people who generally don't understand the issues. Until a generation that grew up with Technology become old enough to become law makers then we will continue to see decisions like this.

Re:The ongoing problem... (1)

Exiler (589908) | more than 11 years ago | (#6988079)

You're kidding. Have you seen the current teen generation of technoweenies?

w3 t3h ppl.. u c mi point?

Re:The ongoing problem... (1)

Osrin (599427) | more than 11 years ago | (#6988171)

people grow up, they take the experience and the education that they gain along the way with them. The current round of judges and lawmakers have no such experience upon which to draw.

All they can do is listen to the religious techno freaks that cross their doorstep and create policy based upon a best guess analysis of what they have heard.

I'm exagerating a little, but not much.

WTF is up in Utah (1)

Bruha (412869) | more than 11 years ago | (#6988008)

What is up with Utah that all these IP/Copyright things seem to surface there instead of other places. Did Silicon valley move?

Re:WTF is up in Utah (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6988060)

Utah has a pretty huge tech sector (no Silicon Valley of course, but plenty o' jobs).

Re:WTF is up in Utah (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6988088)

Silicon valley has too many people who understand the issues. The plaintif's lawyers know that their best bet is to roll the dice in some backwater state like Utah.

Re:WTF is up in Utah (1)

WTFmonkey (652603) | more than 11 years ago | (#6988187)

That, or the 3.2% beer just isn't cutting it. It's pretty clear now that less alcohol==more crazyass ideas. Q.E.D.!!!

Re:WTF is up in Utah (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6988128)

Mormons in Utah are thieves and liars. Just try to live there for a few years and you will see.

Re:WTF is up in Utah (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6988199)

Yes sir! Them Mormons is not like the Murder-cover-up Southern Baptists or the Child Molesting Catholics. No sir. Them Mormons is a different breed. They lie and steal! LIE and STEAL, I tell yas.

Yes sir, them Mormons lie and steal. Wouldn't want to live in Utah, no sir. Me, I stick with the religions that purvey child molestin' and murderin'

Stupid lawsuits (0)

kaellinn18 (707759) | more than 11 years ago | (#6988009)

10 Sue
20 Fight in court
30 Judge rules
40 Appeal
50 goto 10

Is it just me or is this kind of thing getting old?

Why is this bizarre? (4, Insightful)

bartlog (154332) | more than 11 years ago | (#6988015)

The case might not have much merit, but there's not enough detail for us to decide that - and no apparent reason to dismiss it as 'bizarre'. Don't you remember that Apple sued M$ over the 'look and feel' of Windows? And if I wrote a program that exactly duplicated the functionality of Warcraft III (even if all the code was my own) do you think I wouldn't get sued by Blizzard? Everything depends on what the patents and copyrights cover.

Re:Why is this bizarre? (1)

TopShelf (92521) | more than 11 years ago | (#6988096)

The thing to remember is that the only news here is that this is going to trial. There is an opportunity here for the court to validate reverse engineering, not just viscerate it...

Re:Why is this bizarre? (1)

IceDiver (321368) | more than 11 years ago | (#6988125)

And if I wrote a program that exactly duplicated the functionality of Warcraft III (even if all the code was my own) do you think I wouldn't get sued by Blizzard?

Blizzard actually did something like this. Remember bnetd? Totally legal reverse engineering of the battlenet communications protocol, but it died because the authors couldn't afford to fight Blizzard's lawyers

Re:Why is this bizarre? (5, Interesting)

stratjakt (596332) | more than 11 years ago | (#6988170)

Capcom v. Data East

Data East released "Fighters History", an obvious clone of the wildly popular Street Fighter II. It had similar characters with similar moves...

Capcom lost, and the floodgates opened for folks like SNK and Sammy to inundate us with SFII clones, each one more derivative of the last!

This case, however, could be more than just "look and feel". If it turns out that Easyjet once licensed the original COBOL application (and big iron apps like that tend to ship with code), and decided to port rather than continuing to pay licensing fees...

Reverse Engineering in Danger (1, Redundant)

PineHall (206441) | more than 11 years ago | (#6988016)

If "functional structure" breaks copywrite then all reverse engineering will be considered illegal. This is bad!

What the...? (1)

dostalgic (701463) | more than 11 years ago | (#6988019)

'Parallels had been drawn between appropriating the "functional structure" of a computer system and commandeering the plot of a book... Hmmm...I think I've read a few dozen that go something like this: boy meets girl, boy loses girl, some crisis draws them together, boy gets girl back. Doesn't matter about the pesky details, such as choice of words. All authors now owe money to Danielle Steele. This is getting ridiculous!

"Commandeering the plot of a book?" (2, Interesting)

xTown (94562) | more than 11 years ago | (#6988023)

First of all, this also sounds like a rehash of the "look and feel" lawsuits between Microsoft and Apple. "Your program looks like ours, so you obviously stole it!"

Second, if you couldn't "commandeer" plots, I doubt anybody would be writing any books these days.

Re:"Commandeering the plot of a book?" (5, Interesting)

stratjakt (596332) | more than 11 years ago | (#6988105)

No, there could be something to this case.

Consider the original COBOL work probably lived on some big iron, and like our legacy COBOL systems, shipped with the code.

Maybe Easyjet (or some co-company) was once a licensee of the original work. Rather than pay for an upgrade, they hire a handful of geeks to port it to VB.

There's infringement there - it's not an original work.

It's more like taking a french novel, translating it to english, and slapping your name on it.

Or taking some GPL project, running it through a C to (whatever language) translator, and selling it as your own.

The judge merely allowed them their day in court, which sounds like the right decision to me.

Sue sue sue!!! (0, Funny)

Decameron81 (628548) | more than 11 years ago | (#6988026)

One of these days I'm gonna sue my computer for stealing my life. Who knows? I may get some money out of it.

1. Sue computer
2. Profit!!

Decameron

Where will it end? (1)

bs_02_06_02 (670476) | more than 11 years ago | (#6988029)

Ford sues Chevy over cars and trucks. Louisville Slugger sues Easton over the baseball bat.

Guess what? (0)

illuminata (668963) | more than 11 years ago | (#6988031)

You can't copyright an idea, that's entirely true. Do you know why? Because I have the copyright to that idea!

ideas (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6988032)

What happened to the principle that you can't copyright an idea?


I copyrighted it, thankyou. You shall be receiving your bill shortly.

This would make most MS apps illegal. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6988052)

Word is very similar to MacWrite, Excel is similar to VisiCalc, and so on.

Here's hoping the Judge tosses this one out.

Copyrighting Ideas (4, Insightful)

commodoresloat (172735) | more than 11 years ago | (#6988055)

Actually, the history of 20th century copyright law -- esp. in the US but in Europe as well -- is a blurring of the boundaries between idea and expression, those boundaries being the cornerstone of copyright law previously. This is primarily the effect of movie studios and producers suing people for similar adaptations of similar stories and winning. Siva V. writes about this in Copyrights and Copywrongs. Lawyers for the movie industry went to such lengths to protect their works from imitation that copyright law now recognizes a certain level of idea protection. It's ironic because the film industry got its power in the first place in part because of a strict boundary between idea and expression. But in any case it is not surprising to see this trend manifesting in debates over copyright of computer code.

Re:Copyrighting Ideas (1)

Goth Biker Babe (311502) | more than 11 years ago | (#6988134)

British Law specifically excludes the copyrighting of ideas. You can find all about it here [copyrightservice.co.uk] .

Hmm (2, Insightful)

stratjakt (596332) | more than 11 years ago | (#6988057)

I maintain a large VB project, which is a port from a previous COBOL project. Most of it is pretty much identical, only the syntax of the language has changed.

If I took the linux kernel, ran it through a C to C# (or whatever) translator, is that an infringement?

What if I just compiled it, and disassembled the binary into ASM?

What about translating a French/Russian novel into English, then selling it as my own?

Things aren't as black and white as you think they are.

"All your word processor. . . (-1)

kfg (145172) | more than 11 years ago | (#6988063)

are belong to me." - Bill Joy

KFG

Here we go again... (1)

3seas (184403) | more than 11 years ago | (#6988068)

And the prior art example for use to use is This action against the UK [emory.edu] .....

Must be the teeth (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6988077)

all that pain clouding the judges' decision. ;-)

Hmm (1, Interesting)

ikkonoishi (674762) | more than 11 years ago | (#6988084)

It seems that openres was badly written [computerweekly.com] also.

In Similar News... (5, Funny)

WJenness (147181) | more than 11 years ago | (#6988089)

Ford has filed suit against General Motors for making something that also has four wheels and can transport passengers, by way of an internal combustion engine.

A Ford spokesperson has said: "There will be more lawsuits in the future against other vehicle manufacturers, but we felt like we needed to go after the biggest fish first.

"We realize that this will be met with some hostility, but we are doing this to protect a consumer, we feel that anyone else making such a product is watering down the concept of a 'vehicle' and that having this protected will allow us to continue to innovate.

"Also, we are in talks with SCO to discuss a possible licensing scheme, whereby all owners of non-Ford cars can pay a fee to have their cars properly licensed for Ford's IP."

Re:In Similar News... (1)

stratjakt (596332) | more than 11 years ago | (#6988141)

Actually, Ford did just that back in the 1920s.

They lost for the most part, although some now-defunct operations were found guilty of violating some patents.

so! The world is going mad (4, Insightful)

cdn-programmer (468978) | more than 11 years ago | (#6988091)

Perhaps this a case of mad judge disease!

Anyone who thinks the courts are logical should remember that in France a court found a cow guilty of murder and in Salem a court convicted women of being witches.

Not much has changed since then it would seem.

Re:so! The world is going mad (1, Interesting)

El (94934) | more than 11 years ago | (#6988151)

I assume the cow was sentenced to "death by being slathered in barbeque soft and slowly turned over a fire"? Judges gotta eat too! And if you don't beleive some women are witches, you've never met my wife!

lardedar (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6988092)

if ("lardedar" == "pompompom")
println("im a silly twat);

$im a silly twat

Technologically Challenged Judges (2, Insightful)

Machina70 (700076) | more than 11 years ago | (#6988099)

Should have a city technology consultant, before making these types of rulings.

Who want's to bet that this judge is one of those "computer experts" who's call's to tech support make the christmas party laugh track.

COBOL vs VB (1)

orkysoft (93727) | more than 11 years ago | (#6988107)

What's the lesser of the two evils here? I've had to do both, poor me, but luckily not for long :-)

Join the S.H.A.E. today (-1)

Suicide Bomberman (679592) | more than 11 years ago | (#6988133)

The S.H.A.E. is an up and coming organisation that gathers straight honkeys from around the world for one common purpose: Complaining about Gay Niggers!

Are you straight [godhatesfags.com] ?
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If tha answer to any of the above questions is yes, then the Straight Honkeys Association of Europe could be just what you're looking for! Become a member today! All you have to do is

1. Write and post an SHAE first post
2. Post a diparaging reply to one of the GNAA's posts3. Write a journal entry about the joy of being a straight honkey

You will then be a full-fledged member of the SHAE. And remember, God doesn't hate them because they're fags, they're fags because God hates them!

The legal system is severely flawed... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6988149)


If that ruling were held true, then any novelist (let's say murder-mystery) would be able to sue any other novelist for copyright infringement.

This problem of Intellectual Property has gone too far for any reasonable solution. Courts and judges appear often incompetent, politicians are the step'n'fetch'it's of moneyed corporations and the customer is the sacrifical lamb.

I dunno.. (1)

Ckwop (707653) | more than 11 years ago | (#6988185)

Well, call me stupid but aren't two airline booking systems always going to be "functionally similar".. They are designed for the same purpose..



Surely this is silly.. As stated somewhere in this thread. Patents are for ideas not copyright.. So it wont pass..



In order for progress to be made.. information and ideas need to be available to everyone to be explored and built on.



Granted, we need intellectual property but we also owe something to the sum of human knowledge.. If the man (or woman :) ) who invented the wheel claimed copyright in the way these guys have.. then the world would not be as it is today..



it is all too far in favour of keeping people bank balances healty but is this preventing new ideas?



Simon

I just keep wondering... (2, Insightful)

da3dAlus (20553) | more than 11 years ago | (#6988197)

How many ways are there to effectively and efficiently solve a problem/need? Won't most solutions begin to look similar? Will this continue until it's just the first company to come up with a solution that can put a copyright on the functionality? You think software is crappy now...

A test case? (1)

Goth Biker Babe (311502) | more than 11 years ago | (#6988206)

Sometimes these actions are considered tryable because no precedence current exists. It might be that there's no current ruling as to whether two differently written pieces of software which act the same are copies or not. So it might be that this case is tryable not because the plaintiff might win but because he or she might lose and so set a ruling.

With respect to ideas, computer programs and the like. These are all specifically covered by the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 [copyrightservice.co.uk] which is the latest version of acts that date all the way back to 1709, common law and the Statute of Anne.

like commandeering the plot of a book? (1)

calethix (537786) | more than 11 years ago | (#6988212)

"Parallels had been drawn between appropriating the "functional structure" of a computer system and commandeering the plot of a book, the judge noted.' "

Yea? Is that supposed to be illegal or something? I sure wouldn't have noticed with TV shows and movies commandeering plots all the time.
Is MTV (I think they were the first with Real Life) going to start suing all of the other networks for their use of reality tv shows?
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