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O'Connor v. Commonwealth, 16 Va. App. 416, 430 S.E.2d 567 (1993) (full-text).

Factual Background[]

Defendant executed a contract with MicroSystems Technologies for the development of a computer software program. Upon execution of the contract, and in exchange for a copy of the contract and the attached specification, the defendant gave MicroSystems a check for $25,350 which was uncollectable. Defendant was convicted for obtaining computer software by false pretenses. Defendant appealed.

Appellate Court Proceedings[]

Computer software is defined as:

[A] set of computer programs, procedures and associated documentation concerned with computer data or with the operation of a computer, computer program, or computer network.[1]

A computer program is defined as:

[A]n ordered set of data representing coded instructions or statements that, when executed by a computer, causes the computer to perform one or more computer operations.[2]

The documents received by the defendant were not a computer program because they could not be executed by a computer. Although the document described a computer program proposed to be created, they did not relate to a program in existence and were not documentation associated with a set of computer programs or procedures.

Thus, the Court held that specifications for a program to be developed were not "computer software," and reversed the judgment of the trial court.


  1. Va. Code §18.2-152.2.
  2. Id.