The Past, Present and Future of Software Copyright Interoperability Rules in the European Union and United States
Author(s): Pamela Samuelson
The protectability (or not) of computer program interfaces, the legality of reverse engineering of program code to extract interface information and the reimplementation of interfaces in complementary or competing programs was deeply controversial in the late 1980s and early 1990s. For the past 20 years, copyright law in both the European Union and United States has been favorably disposed towards treating interfaces necessary to achieving interoperability as unprotectable elements of programs and towards reverse engineering for a legitimate purpose such as discerning interface information. Controversies over interfaces and interoperability have, however, not ceased. The Court of Justice of the European Union is now considering an important cases, SAS Institute, Inc. v. World Programming Ltd., which calls for an interpretation of the Council Directive 91/250 on the legal protection of computer programs concerning the protectability of interfaces designed to enable a competing program to interoperate with existing programs.
Keywords: Copyright, EU Law, Interoperability, Software, United States