Computer software should not be protected by copyright laws designed for music, literature and other creative works, according to a lawsuit filed in a U.S. court in San Francisco.
Intellectual-property consultant Greg Aharonian hopes to convince the court that software makers can protect their products adequately through patents, which provide more comprehensive protection, but are difficult to obtain and expire in a shorter period of time.
An official with a software-industry trade group said not every software product is protected by patents.
“If you eliminated the ability to sue somebody for copyright infringement, you would eviscerate our ability to go against pirates,” said Emory Simon, counselor for the Business Software Alliance, which estimates that U.S. businesses lost $6.5 billion last year to piracy.
Aharonian argues in his complaint that software copyright laws violate the right to due process enshrined in the U.S. Constitution because they do not provide clear boundaries for appropriate use. That means industry players and courts do not have a clear idea of the rules.
In one well-known case, Lexmark International Inc. (LXK.N: Quote, Profile, Research) invoked copyright laws to prevent a competitor from making computer circuits that allow cheaper inkjet cartridges to work on its printers.
One court ruled in Lexmark’s favor in 2002, but an appeals court in October overturned that decision and allowed rival Static Control Components to sell its inkjet cartridge parts.