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 "...Understanding The Software Copyright Act" 
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Post "...Understanding The Software Copyright Act"
The Programmer's Guide To Understanding The Software Copyright Act
by: Richard Cunningham

The Software Copyright Act, better known as the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, has given software developers more power to protect their works. If you've bought software in the last few years I'm sure you've noticed some of the changes in the software buying process.

Some of the more noteworthy achievements of this Act are the following:

1) It is now a crime to break any anti-piracy measures in the software.

2) It is no longer legal to make, sale, or give away software or devices that were invented for the purpose of cracking codes enabling the illegal copying of software.

3) Limits the liability that ISPs (as far as copyright infringement violations) when information is transmitted online.

Most people don’t want to pirate software. Most of us by nature want to do the right thing. The problem lies in educating people that it is stealing when you bootleg, pirate, illegally download, or acquire copies of software that you didn't pay for. It's one of those “white lie” types of crimes for most people, and they don't see how it will hurt anyone to copy a game from a brother, cousin, uncle, or friend. Someone paid for it, after all. The problem is if 10 million people are duplicating software at $50 or more per copy, the loss of software royalties and profits are staggering. The Software Copyright Act seeks to protect businesses from losing money this way and curtail illegal downloading of copyrighted music and software.

A Software Copyright Statement Protects Current and Future Works

If you have a site dedicated to sharing and distributing open source software, it is a wise decision to have a software copyright statement that explains the limits of use for your software, as well as the limits of your responsibility for those who use your software. I also recommend getting an attorney to look over the statement before posting it just to be sure there are no legal issues that you may be unaware of.

A software copyright statement doesn't have to be a 10 page booklet on the law or the protections that copyright offers; it should be a simple short paragraph stating the basics and protecting you from litigation and/or responsibility. Your software copyright statement should also establish your ownership of the material.

A software copyright statement is only part of the process required to protect your software; it is also a significant deterrent to those who would abuse your copyright and/or your kindness to use and distribute your software. Even if you are charging people for the use of your software, you still need to protect the labor you have put into making not only the software but the distribution method, the website, the payment method and the thousands of other things that are part and parcel of the business model for your software distribution.

Most software developers, coders, and programmers aren't as concerned nearly as much about associating their name with the products they create. They also want to protect future potential income from their software. By protecting all your work with a software copyright statement you are not only protecting current works, but also future works as well.

About The Author

Richard Cunningham is a freelance journalist who covers copyright law for Download his free e-book, "Copyright Basics" at

Copyright © 2001-Present

[Note: Due to size restriction, this articles title has to be abreviated. Apologies to Richard Cunningham. - Admin.]

This article was posted by permission.

Wed Aug 01, 2007 9:14 pm
 [ 1 post ] 

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