The functionality of a software is not protected by copyright law

It’s very briefly what the European Court of Justice ruled in the case C-406/10 of May 2 2012 (below the link to download the full text), with which it was clarified that are not protected by copyright law, in accordance with EU Directive 91/250 (now EU Directive 2009/24), the functionality of a software, nor the programming language or file format of data used.

The European Courts have made ​​it clear that the software is to be protected as an expression of the creation of the author and not the needs of the user that this product meets; in this prospective it has been highlighted that the functionality of a computer program, as well as its interface, can not be subject to protection, since it is limited only to the source code and the object code.

The Court stated that “On the basis of those considerations, it must be stated that […], neither the functionality of a computer program nor the programming language and the format of data files used in a computer program in order to exploit certain of its functions constitute a form of expression of that program for the purposes of Article 1(2) of Directive 91/250”.

In fact, to accept that the functionality of a computer program can be protected by copyright would amount to making it possible to monopolise ideas, to the detriment of technological progress and industrial development.


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