In quantitative finance SE, there is a question asking for help calculating an index. If someone writes a program that performs the calculations described in the handbook and shares that program publicly, would it violate the index copyright? Or does the translation from English to computer program make it ok?

  • There is no such thing as a "copyrighted calculation." A particular description of a calculation could be copyrighted (if it is creative, etc.), however, but the fact of the calculation itself is not.
    – Brandin
    Jan 18, 2019 at 9:23
  • So the handbook describing a calculation is copyrighted, but that does not prevent people from describing the calculation in another way (computer code)? Jan 18, 2019 at 18:27

1 Answer 1


Copyright never protects ideas or processes, it only protects expression: words, images, and sounds, some of which may describe ideas. But when a work is nothing more than a translation of an idea into words, with no independent originality -- when almost anyone would use more or less the same way to describe the idea, then the work will not be protected by copyright at all, as it is not considered an "original work". Computer code that implements an algorithm often falls under this rule.

It is my belief that the code shown in the linked SE thread would fall under this rule, and would not be protected by copyright at all. If this is correct, then anyone may share such a program with no copyright concern.

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .