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Court of Justice—licensee may decompile a computer program to correct errors even when restricted by licence (Top System SA v Belgium)

Published on: 12 October 2021
Published by: LexisPSL
  • Court of Justice—licensee may decompile a computer program to correct errors even when restricted by licence (Top System SA v Belgium)
  • What are the practical implications of this case?
  • What was the background?
  • What did the Court of Justice decide?
  • Case details

Article summary

TMT analysis: In a landmark decision, the Court of Justice ruled that the 1991 Software Directive (Directive 91/250/EC), allows licensees to decompile a licensed computer program, to the extent decompilation is necessary to correct errors in the program. Decompilation is the reverse process of compilation, aiming at creating human-readable (and editable) source code from the machine-readable object code (also known as binary code). The right to decompile for error correction is however strictly limited and applies only to the extent necessary to effect that correction and in compliance, where appropriate, with the conditions laid down in the contract with the holder of the copyright in that program. This case concerned the provisions of the repealed Directive 91/250/EC but the relevant Articles are substantively identical to those contained in the current Software Directive (Directive 2009/24/EC). Written by Hakim Haouideg, partner at Fieldfisher. or take a trial to read the full analysis.

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