Appeal court rules on AMPS copyright dispute

The Supreme Court of Appeal has upheld an appeal in respect of the copyright of a computer programme for examining and directing All Media Products Survey (AMPS) information.

AMPS results are derived from questionnaire-based, six-monthly market surveys available in binary-column electronic format, and are often used by advertising agencies in the planning of marketing strategies.

The appeal followed the Cape High Court's dismissal of an application to the Cape High Court by Anton Haupt, a developer of the programme Data Explorer.

He sought an order interdicting a former employer and others from infringing his alleged copyright in Data Explorer - through the similar program Brewer's AMPS - and in certain database structures and databases.

The high court held that Haupt's claim could not be sustained.

However, the SCA rejected an argument by Brewer's Marketing Intelligence (Pty) Ltd that the reproduction of part of the source code of the Data Explorer program was not substantial.

It held that the quality than the quantity of what was taken determined how substantial the reproduction.

The court found that the code was copied because the Brewer's AMPS programmer had found it difficult to write it himself and that these components were considered a valuable part of the program.

Upholding Haupt's appeal, the SCA set aside the high court order.

The SCA ordered Brewer's to deliver all infringing copies of the work to Haupt within seven days. -


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