reforma amerykańskiego prawa IP

Ciekawa dyskusja u profesora Fishera na seminarum z teorii własności intelektualnej  – na temat zmian w prawie własności intelektualnej. Z moich propozycji największe zaintersowanie (Fishera i studentów) wywołała ochrona baz danych – zupełnie niezasłużenie, bo po porstu przedstawiłem rozwiązanie funkcjonujące w Unii Europejskiej znacznie sensowniejsze moim zdaniem niż amerykańska ochrona post-feist-owska [od orzeczenia w sprawie Feist].

Ciekawszym pomysłem (padł kilkanaście lat temu  w słynnym artykule cytowanym poniżej) jest ochrona sui generis programów komputerowych. W skrócie chodzi o odejście od stosowania wykształconych w XIX w. na potrzeby ochrony dzieł literackich i wynalazków – odpowiednio – prawa autroskiego i patentowego. Żaden z tych reżimów nie zapewnia optymalnej (wystarczającej, a jednocześnie nie zbyt silnej) ochrony oprogramowania.

Poniżej podsumowanie mojego głosu w dyskusji:

Protection of computer software under copyright, as it is limited to textual elements (source code or object code) is not effective. Software producers seek protection under patent law (US) or try trade secret or contractual protection (EU). Unfortunately also patent law seems to be an imperfect solution for software (although far more effective and logically consistent than copyright), since lacks the originality requirement and can easily provide with too strong shield (software components, business methods, processes) and impair progress in software engineering (patent trolls). Lack of supranational standards makes the outcome more complicated and impairs non-US software producers (as most jurisdictions do not grant patent protection for software, e.g., in EU still only software/hardware “merger” makes software element patentable; national patent authorities in European countries are even more reluctant). Diversity of standards for software protection that producers experience in major markets imposes difficulties and risks for their business activities, e.g., European producer cannot sell its software on certain markets because possible US patent infringement; US producers being denied patent protection may refrain from entering new markets. Lack of consistent practice regionally in EU countries may pose further complications (e.g., case of reverse engineering or copying of non-literary elements will be treated differently in UK and Sweden – what to do if the software product or its components are distributed in countries of slightly different approach?). It is not only the economic role of software that makes it different from literary works, and calls for a different protection standard. It seems that the basic computer software characteristics are misunderstood by lawyers and legislators, who see them as “writings” in the sense of literary creativity works. “[P]rimary source of value in a program is its behavior, not its text (…) programs are, in fact, machines (entities that bring about useful behavior) that have been constructed in the medium of text (source and object code)” P. Samuelson et al., A Manifesto Concerning the Legal Protection of Computer Programs, 94 Colum. L. Rev 2308 (1994). My suggestions: (1) set international standard for software protection (amending TRIPS), (2) protection for limited (no renewals) and short period (5 years), (3) program structure protected (with respect to idea/expression merger doctrine), (4) idea, process, business method – not protected, (5) object code protected (as literary work), (6) source code not protected (no restrictions on decompilation) since the program structure is shielded, (7) registration requirement (if not registered and disseminated – default lower standard of protection applies – like CC attribution-share alike license), (8) regional registration authorities and an international/central data base.

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