Should Software Be Classified As Free Speech? Essay

1139 Words Nov 5th, 2016 5 Pages
For many Americans, the First Amendment is one of the most important rights, freedom of speech. Certainly, our Founding Fathers could not have anticipated the invention of software and source code, however it continues to seem ridiculous to think that someday software may not be protected under our Bill of Rights. Due to several court cases that were highly publicized in the last few years, the question is whether software can or should be classified as free speech. Opponents of the topic believe that software is “functional”, and therefore could not be considered as free speech any more than a ball-point pen is. However, proponents disagree, and assume that software is like an instructional manual, therefore it qualifies as free speech. The question of whether the source code is free speech is quite complicated because the same code conveys valuable information for those familiar with computer programming and controls the function of the machine. In one of the first appellate decisions that interpreting provisions of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) was Universal Studios v. Corley (2nd Cir. 2001) which the circuit court addressed the “code as speech” question. The court stated that “communication does not lose constitutional protection as “speech” simply because it is expressed in the language of computer code.” (Universal Studios v. Corley, 2nd Cir. 2001). The source code in question was compared to mathematical formulas and musical scores which are both…

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