Issues with copyright preemption from state court to federal court become germane under the Copyright Act. A recent decision in federal court dealt with the issue where what was being claimed was about ideas expressed in a tangible form in a software program, i.e., Spear Marketing, Inc. v. Bancorp South Bank. The Fifth Circuit determined that expressions in a tangible form was within the body of what is construed as copyright. The court reviewed the principle of copyright preemption and found this was the case despite noting other aspects of the software that were not copyrightable and were exclusions in the Copyright Act.
The court reasoned as well that Spear’s claims of copying and conversion of its software confidential information, was the same as the federal recognized claims of reproduction and distribution, that are allowed under Sec. 106 of the Act. Therefore, the court found it to have the authority to properly exercise jurisdiction rather than the state court.
The essential point out of the Spear Marketing case is that the court determined that a copyright claim seeking to protect the copyright falls within the purview of the Copyrights Act and therefore, federal jurisdiction triggers away from state court. What was most critical was the determination of what was deemed as ‘tangible’ within the software program, that made it subject to the Act.