back to article Software giant SAS loses copyright case in London

SAS has lost an important copyright case in the High Court in London, although SAS insists it has not lost at all. The software giant sued Worldwide Programming Ltd - a small UK firm - for breach of copyright and breach of license conditions. SAS said WPL had breached its license relating to SAS Learning Edition in order to …


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  1. frymaster

    Quite write

    copyright coveres specific arrangements of words (or source code), not ideas

    What SAS wanted was a patent....

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Which is why software patents are not good

    "What SAS wanted was a patent."

    A patent is not supposed to cover an idea, but in software which can be written in a multitude of ways and languages, that's exactly the effect they would have. To prevent anyone from, say, having overlapping windows regardless of the code used to do it is to in practise prevent anyone from exploiting the idea of overlapping windows, which is far more than patents are supposed to do.

    Because of the nature of software as a code converted to machine code, copyright in fact already grants all the protections that a patent does to a physical invention.

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  3. Steven Jones

    IPRs, not (mainly) copyright

    Don't expect SAS to take this one lying down. There's a lot of very serious money at stake on this one, and many companies will be rather reluctant to make the jump from SAS to the WPL system unless the future of the latter is secure and they won't, themselves, be vulnerable to legal action.

    Of course there are compatibility issues, and WPL does not cover the entirety of SAS, but there are plenty enough users who could move to make a difference. In many cases IT shops are locked into expensive licenses for relatively small applications (how many SAS licenses were sold off the back of MXG for mainframe capacity planning/performance analysis?).

    I'm also wondering what the position will be in the US - it could well be that the WPL system could end up being illegal there but not in the rest of the world given the US line on software IPRs.

  4. Dave Bell

    Puzzled look...

    OK, I must be missing something, but how did WPL get to see something they could copy?

  5. Keith T
    Thumb Up

    An judge that knows his IT stuff!

    "The judge accepted the right of company to copy the functions of a piece of software, as long as it does not copy source code, without breaking copyright."

    I am totally impressed! Usually such subtleties go over the heads of non-IT/non-science people.

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      1. Pascal Monett Silver badge

        Can't agree - much too risky

        Initially, copyright was for a mere 14 years. It got extended again and again until today's properly mind-boggling "life + 70 years". It can be extended farther than that, since all copyright lobbyists work for companies that do not "die" and would fervently wish for "life + as long as we own it".

        Create a software patent thingy and you will simply open the door for the same shenanigans. It took only one stupid judge to grant companies the same rights as people, and that was before the time companies had big money to impress senators and anybody they needed to buy.

        As long as software patents do not exist, all that big money can only be spent on trying to make it exist. The problem stops there. If, however, you open the door only a crack, you'll be giving a toehold for big money to open that crack wider until they can pass a bulldozer through it.

        And they will.

  6. The First Dave


    How about a link to the actual ruling, so that we can decide for ourselves?

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