GitHub Files Court Brief Criticizing ‘Vague Infringement Allegations’
“One project going dark — due to a DMCA takedown or otherwise — can impact thousands of developers,” GitHub warns in a blog post this week:

We saw that firsthand with both leftpad and mimemagic. That’s why GitHub’s designed its DMCA process to follow the law in requiring takedown requests to identify specific content. We want developers on our platform and elsewhere to have a clear opportunity to remove infringing code yet keep non-infringing code up for others to use, modify, and learn from.

Ensuring that software copyright allegations are specific and actionable benefits the entire developer ecosystem. That’s why GitHub submitted a “friend of the court” brief in the SAS Institute, Inc. v. World Programming Ltd. case before a Federal Court of Appeals.

This case is the most recent in a ten-year litigation spanning both the UK and the US. SAS Institute has brought copyright and non-copyright claims against World Programming’s software that runs code written in the SAS language, and the copyright claims drew comparison to the recent Google v. Oracle Supreme Court case. But this case is different from Google v. Oracle because here the alleged copyright infringement is based on a claim of “nonliteral” infringement. That means there is no allegation that specific lines of code were literally copied, but only that other aspects, like the code’s overall structure and organization, were used. In nonliteral infringement claims, the questions arise: what aspects of the “nonliteral” features were taken and are they actually protected by copyright…?

GitHub believes that for claims involving nonliteral copying of software, it is critical that a copyright owner provide — as early as possible — examples that would allow a developer, a court, or a software collaboration platform like GitHub to identify what was claimed to be copied. Our brief helps educate the court why specificity is especially important for developers…. We urged the court to think about efficiency in dispute resolution to avoid FUD (fear, uncertainty, and doubt). The sooner infringement allegations can be made specific and clear, the sooner infringing code can be changed and non-infringing code can stay up. That should be the result for both federal lawsuits, as well as DMCA infringement notices.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

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