Dec 142017
Explains value & limit of software copyrights.
File COPYWRTE.ZIP from The Programmer’s Corner in
Category Tutorials + Patches
Explains value & limit of software copyrights.
File Name File Size Zip Size Zip Type
COPYRITE.DOC 4352 1981 deflated
COPYRITE.INF 5888 2646 deflated
COPYRITE.LAW 22912 8828 deflated

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Contents of the COPYRITE.DOC file


June B. Moore
Attorney at Law
32 Salinas Avenue
San Anselmo CA 94960
Ph 415-456-5889 (after 5:30 pm)

Writers of software programs that are being placed on the various
bulletin boards with permission to users of the board to use the pro-
grams for non-commerical purposes should mark those programs as:

(c) 1981 John Smith

It is not necessary to register the work with the Copyright Office
in Washington, D.C. to get copyright protection. In fact, it is
not necessary to put the copyright notice on to get protection, but the
notice is required if you want to sue for infringement, as is regis-
tration with the Copyright Office. If the omission of the notice was
inadvertent or distribution was for a limited purpose only (like to
one's family or a friendly group getting together) the lack of notice
does not cause any harm. However, the absence of the notice will
allow anyone who copies your program to claim it was placed in the
public domain for all to use for any purpose. Only the copyright
can be licensed and if the other fellow doesn't know you are
claiming a copyright, he can claim innocence in this copying.

Registration is simple. Just send a note off to the Copyright
Office, Library of Congress, Washington, D.C. and ask for the forms
needed to register a computer program. They will send you a
package of stuff which will include the forms and instructions
on how to file for registration. Fill out the form, send it back
with two copies of your printout showing the copyright notice on it and
$10 and soon the Copyright Office will send you a certificate
saying the program is registered.

That's all there is to it!

Copyright should not be confused with patent. Patents have to be
original invention and protect the idea embodied in an object or
machine. Copyright protects any kind of a literary, musical, or
artist work, including all kinds of graphics and sculpture. It
also protects recorded audio and visual works such as phonorecords
and videotapes and films.

Neither type of protection guarantees no one will steal your effort,
any more than the police department guarantees no one will burgle
your house. The law against burglary and the law against copyright
infringement, however, give the owner of the house or the copy-
right a kind of right to recover from the thief. Better chance,
too, in the case of a software thief who copies for commercial

A copyright will not protect your fine idea for bit-twiddling - it
will protect your expression of it - that is, no one can copy
your program directly although they can do some bit-twiddling
themselves to accomplish the same purpose you aimed at. For
example, no one can copyright the idea of the play "Romeo and
Juliette" of a pair of lovers whose families are feuding. But
Romeo and Juliette could have been copyrighted by William
Shakespeare and anyone who used his lines in another play about
the same thing or a similar thing would have infringed his

Is that clear? Or just confusing? Well, Einstein's theory,
E = MC*C could not be either patented (it is a natural law)
or copyrighted (it is an idea) but Albert's book about his
theory could be, was, and is copyrighted!

If it comes down to protecting you program through a lawsuit,
it is necessary to have the notice and the registration. The
registration is prima facie evidence of the validity of your
copyright. And should you succeed in proving your copyright,
the court will issue an injunction against a copier without
permission, will ultimately give you either his profits, your
losses (should you start selling the program yourself), and
your attorney's fees if he was an intentional infringer. It
could be a good deal for you, if your program is really great -
and some that I have seen on the CBBS's are great!

If I can help with advice - but not filing lawsuits- drop
me a note on the Mill Valley RBBS (415-383-0473) or to
the above address. I don't practice law - I write about it
and copyright is one of the areas I write about.

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