View Full Version : Software copyrights and trademarks?

08-25-2003, 04:16 PM

How do copyrights and trademarks work with software programs? I have always wondered how to get, how much it costs and how long it takes to get a newly developed program copyrighted. What is required the get a copyright? What programs do commonly have copyrights and/or trademarks? How important is it to have a copyright and how big is the risk of ending up in a court trying to prove youíre the actual developer of a program. If a program released on website isnít copyrighted and someone downloads and modifies the credit text, can that someone get a copyright? What is the worst scenario that a program developer can experience if not having a copyright or trademark on the program he/she has just released? How often do programs not related to any company have a copyright or trademark?

Sorry for the many questions but I really want to know, I have thought about the subject for a long time.

08-25-2003, 04:34 PM
Umm. Big question.

Did you know I once wrote a paper on copyrights? Shame you dont live in UK cos it wont mean $$$$ to you.

Heres a good tip. Stick in some false source code. Make it look good but not do anything. When your stuff is stolen, the fake code goes with it. Voila-case won.

Or read this and find relevant links (http://www.hmso.gov.uk/acts/acts1988/Ukpga_19880048_en_1.htm) from here.

Mind I talk from a non publishers POV, most people on here will probably tell you stuff on HOW to protect your code.

08-25-2003, 04:42 PM
Well its US code but the following link might be useful.


I've only taken a quick glance at it but here are some quick highlights:

Copyright law protects "works of authorship."

Copyright protection arises automatically when an original work of authorship is fixed in a tangible medium of expression. Registration with the Copyright Office is optional (but you have to register before you file an infringement suit).

Under current law, the copyright term for works created by individuals is the life of the author plus 70 years.
The copyright term for "works made for hire" is 95 years from the date of first "publication" (distribution of copies to the general public) or 120 years from the date of creation, whichever expires first. Works made for hire are works created by employees for employers and certain types of specially commissioned works (see "The Work Made for Hire Rule" in the Ownership of Copyright materials.).

08-25-2003, 04:46 PM
I think you will find this does not apply to software. You will have to prove the machine is more with your software than without (type of thing)

It is VASTLY expensive and time consuming to copyright or patent software, and frequently not even worth it.

08-25-2003, 04:47 PM
Motion pictures and other audiovisual works. Movies, documentaries, travelogues, training films and videos, television shows, television ads, and interactive multimedia works.

Oh and check this link out also:

08-25-2003, 05:04 PM
Thanks for the fast replies, but am I still very confused. In what cases is it common or recommended to get a copyright and/or trademark? And what if I would make an upgrade to a copyrighted program, would I have to register the newer version through the same process?

08-25-2003, 05:15 PM
First trademarks and copyrights are two different things.

Read both of the links fully and it'll answer a lot of questions. Findlaw.com is also a really good resource to find anymore information.

08-25-2003, 05:23 PM
I don't know how it's done these days. But in the old days, songwriters and such, once they'd written the song. They'd stick it in an envelope and mail it to themselves, then keep it safe. The postal stamp proves the date, and the judge opens it and goes "hmm". Then he comes back in and hammers that wooden block with his hammer. (ive always wanted to be a judge purely for the hammer, or in the certain case of a judge known as dredd (dread, whatever), a big $$$$ing gun.) It's good proof, cheap (the price of a postage stamp) and you can even sell it in rome.

did i say rome.


08-26-2003, 08:47 AM
Ok I have read through the links above, except the first link where I just looked thought it (mainly because it didnít seem to say much about computer software). Anyway I have still some unanswered questions and also some that came to me while reading. I hope I am not asking to much.

What type of computer software does commonly and/or is recommended to have a copyright of and trademark of the product name?

How many of you developers have copyrights and/or trademarks on games or programs that you share for free?

Is it enough proof that you are the developer of a program if you have the source code?

Is there an easier way of proving that you are the actual developer of a program than having a copyright and besides have the source code? Something like the method Brian mentioned.

08-26-2003, 08:53 AM
> It's good proof, cheap

I've heard that that's not actually considered proof, but I can't dig up where I saw that.

08-26-2003, 09:26 AM
Aidman if you have a financal stake that is causing you to ask these questions I'd suggest you go and talk to a lawyer that specializes in copyrights. Anymore information give here will most likely be conjecture.

Copyrights are a big enough deal for major corporations to have lawyers just for that, but for us little people it is important but not something we have the resources to deal with most of the time.