|Volume 2: No. 27|
An important copyright decision by New York's Second Circuit Court of Appeals -- the most authoritative circuit for copyright issues -- has established that clean-room procedures can be an adequate defense against software copyright infringement. The function of a piece of code cannot be copyrighted. Altai Software rewrote parts of its Oscar 3.5 scheduler program that had been improperly derived from Computer Associates' source code. The new code performs the same function, but has been judged free of infringement. Computer Associates plans to appeal. [Laurie Flynn, SJM, 6/28.]
Data Addressable Memory (DAM) is a new content-addressable architecture using three RAM memories: 1) A sequential log-book (or "log") memory stores data vectors in the order learned. 2) A "twist" memory interchanges the rows and columns so that a data vector retrieves the most recent log-book address. 3) A "linked-list" memory stores LIFO chains of log addresses that all contain the same data pattern. You query the twist memory for a pattern's address and -- if you need all instances -- chain through the linked list until you reach a zero. Check the log memory if you need to verify that each address does store the data pattern. (The log memory might be unnecessary for pattern-recognition applications.) [Loring Wirbel, EE Times, 5/11.] You can implement this with current software or hardware technologies, but you may have to license the patent rights from Lawrence Dillard of TexTek (Boulder, CO).
LawDesk CD-ROM court rulings are available for New York 2d, California, Connecticut, and Arkansas. Beta testers say that the discs are often faster, more convenient, and cheaper than online information systems. $2,995, or $500 per network plus $50 per user; quarterly updates for $580/year. Thomson Electronic Publishing (Stamford, CT). [Thomas Hoffman, CW, 6/8.]
Philip Leith's new book, "The Computerised Lawyer" (Springer- Verlag, 1991), is reviewed in the 1/92 Computers and Law Magazine. [Pamela N. Gray (email@example.com), AIL-L, 3/16.]
"The Legal Liability of Information Professionals" is discussed by Martin Felsky in the Canadian Journal of Information Science, #14, 9/89. [John Hughes (firstname.lastname@example.org), online, 3/27.]
When technologies are first introduced, courts tend to protect practitioners and their new applications. This has happened with expert systems, as in Triangle Underwriters v. Honeywell Inc. (1979) and Chatlos Systems v. National Cash Register Corp. (1979), where courts refused to recognize the tort of computer malpractice. This attitude is changing, as evidenced by malpractice judgments in Diversified Graphics v. Groves (1989) and Data Processing Services Inc. v. L.H. Smith Oil Corp. (1986). AI practitioners would be wise not to claim too much for their systems. [Peter P. Mykytyn, Jr., and Kathleen Mykytyn, AI Expert, 12/91.]
- -- Ken