Ideas, Expressions, Universals, and Particulars: Metaphysics in the Realm of Software Copyright Law

Ideas, Expressions, Universals, and Particulars: Metaphysics in the Realm of Software Copyright Law

Thomas M. Powers (University of Virginia, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-59140-576-4.ch004
OnDemand PDF Download:
$30.00
List Price: $37.50

Abstract

The distinction in U.S. copyright law between ideas and their expressions is of particular importance in protecting software. In literary works and software alike, the ideas that underlie these forms of intellectual property do not enjoy copyright protection, whereas the tangible expressions of the ideas, in fixed media and of sufficient originality, can have copyright protection. The idea vs. expression distinction has been the focus of many cases in the courts, especially where there was an alleged infringement of non-literal parts of a software program, such as “structure, sequence, and organization” or “look and feel.” I argue that this legal distinction relies on the metaphysical distinction between universals and particulars, one that has been a major topic of philosophical controversy for over two millennia. The unsettled nature of the philosophical debate serves as a good explanation of the meandering of case law in this area.

Complete Chapter List

Search this Book:
Reset