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Re: [dvd-discuss] Fwd: Australian Court rules: Films aren't software

"Robert S. Thau" writes:

: Peter D. Junger writes:
:  > : data and code may be interchangeable to some extend, but it still makes
:  > : sense to differ. if you have a program whose one and only purpose is to
:  > : display a fixed set of data, is there a reason to call it code? none,
:  > : besides sophistry.
:  >
:  > There are lot's of reason to call that program a computer program,
:  > most importantly that it satisfies the definition of a computer
:  > program that is contained in the Copyright Act.  And arfe
:  > you claiming that it is sophistry to call a ``Hello World" program
:  > code?  Or to call it a program?
: At the dawn of this list, there was a lot of debate on this question.
: One of the more interesting examples was a Postscript document ---
: Postscript actually is a (somewhat Forth-like) programming language,
: which happens to have output primitives which let a program tell a
: printer where to put the ink.
: So, it's possible to have Postscript documents which contain
: compressed images, and code to decompress them.
: (The flip side of the argument is that if you call Postscript
: documents "programs", then you can also call plain text documents
: "programs" in a language in which each character is a "command" whose
: semantics are to print that character and advance one space, with a
: few extras for newline, etc.  But it is possible to draw principled
: distinctions here; for instance Postscript is Turing-complete, if run
: on a machine with space for an infinite stack, and the "ASCII command
: set" is not...).

Turing completeness does not support a principled distinction.  
The PostScript language program may be Turing-complete, but few
if any PostScript programs are Turing complete.  (And if you
require an infinite tape, no program is Turing complete.)  The
only principled conclusion is that all code---PostScript, HTML, or
ASCII---is a program, as the term program is defined in the 
Copyright Act.  (In fact, since the term ``computer'' was 
originally a job description, one can argue that any instructions
or statements addressed to a human being are computer programs in
the sense of the Copyright Act.  I see, however, no reason to
make such an argument.)

Peter D. Junger--Case Western Reserve University Law School--Cleveland, OH
 EMAIL: junger@samsara.law.cwru.edu    URL:  http://samsara.law.cwru.edu   
        NOTE: junger@pdj2-ra.f-remote.cwru.edu no longer exists