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Thursday, 14 October 2010

Graphic user interfaces: expressions in any form of a computer program?


GUIs: an expression, but of what?
Case C-393/09 Bezpečnostní softwarová asociace – Svaz softwarové ochrany was referred by the Nejvyšší správní soud (Supreme Administrative Court, Czech Republic) for a preliminary ruling by the Court of Justice of the European Union on 5 October 2009.  The questions in need of an answer are as follows:
""Should Article 1(2) of Council Directive 91/250/EEC of 14 May 1991 on the legal protection of computer programs be interpreted as meaning that, for the purposes of the copyright protection of a computer program as a work under that directive, the phrase 'the expression in any form of a computer program' also includes the graphic user interface of the computer program or part thereof?

If the answer to the first question is in the affirmative, does television broadcasting, whereby the public is enabled to have sensory perception of the graphic user interface of a computer program or part thereof, albeit without the possibility of actively exercising control over that program, constitute making a work or part thereof available to the public within the meaning of Article 3(1) of European Parliament and Council Directive 2001/29/EC of 22 May 2001 on the harmonisation of certain aspects of copyright and related rights in the information society?"".
The Advocate General's Opinion has been published today, but not in English (though Latvians and Romanians will have no problem reading it in their native tongue).  According to Advocate General Yves Bot, the questions should be answered as follows:
«1) L’interface utilisateur graphique n’est pas une forme d’expression d’un programme d’ordinateur au sens de l’article 1er, paragraphe 2, de la directive 91/250/CEE du Conseil, du 14 mai 1991, concernant la protection juridique des programmes d’ordinateur, et, dès lors, elle ne peut pas bénéficier de la protection conférée par cette directive.

2) Lorsqu’elle constitue une création intellectuelle propre à son auteur, une interface utilisateur graphique bénéficie de la protection par le droit d’auteur en tant qu’œuvre au sens de l’article 2, sous a), de la directive 2001/29/CE du Parlement européen et du Conseil, du 22 mai 2001, sur l’harmonisation de certains aspects du droit d’auteur et des droits voisins dans la société de l’information.

3) La diffusion télévisuelle de l’interface utilisateur graphique, parce qu’elle fait perdre à cette dernière sa qualité d’œuvre au sens de l’article 2, sous a), de la directive 2001/29, ne constitue pas une communication de l’œuvre au public au sens de l’article 3, paragraphe 1, de cette directive.»
If any kind soul with a good command of one of the luckily-selected official EU languages plus English can translate it, and even offer a comment or two, the 1709 Blog would be most grateful.

2 comments:

Huťko said...

Hope this helps :) I have translated it from the Czech version (sorry for possible mistakes).

1. The graphical user interface is not a form of expression of a computer program within the meaning of Article 1(2) of Council Directive 91/250/EEC 1 of 14 May 1991 on the legal protection of computer programs, and is not covered by protection conferred in this directive.

2. If the graphical user interface is own intellectual creation of the author, it will be protected as a work within the meaning of Article 2(a) of European Parliament and Council Directive 2001/29/EC 2 of 22 May 2001 on the harmonization of certain aspects of copyright and related rights in the information society.

3. The television broadcasting of the graphical user interface is not the making a work available to public within the meaning of Article 3(1) of European Parliament and Council Directive 2001/29/EC 2 of 22 May 2001 on the harmonization of certain aspects of copyright and related rights in the information society, since the broadcasting causes that graphical user interface looses it's nature of a work within the meaning of Article 2 a) of this directive.

All the best,
Huťko

http://husovec.blogspot.com/2010/10/ga-delivered-its-opinion-in-c-39309.html (with link to background)

Anonymous said...

Can anyone fix my confusion, please?
I always treat the GUI as an element of a computer program (part of the program).

1. what does this mean "a form of expression of a computer program"
2. from Case C-393/09, does that mean "GUI is part(element) of the program"?