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====================================================================== COPYRIGHT INFORMATION FOR COMPUTER SOFTWARE HACKS from 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 purposes! 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 copyright. 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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