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Can I Protect Computer Software - Copyright


Lawdit Solicitors - Expert Author

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Released 23 October 2008

Copyright subsists in computer programs by virtue of its inclusion in the definition of literary works under the Copyright, Design and Patent Act 1988 (the act).

This definition specifically includes computer programs and preparatory design material for a computer program. Therefore in most respects they are subject to the same provisions under the Act as any other type of literary work, although the interpretation may be slightly different.

The main exception to this is the provisions relating to permitted acts. The Act provides for separate provisions in this respect in line with the European Directive on the legal protection of computer programs.

Infringement of copyright is looked at in terms of whether a substantial part has been copied which in this is viewed (for software purposes) in terms of quality as well as quantity.

This means that even if only a small part of a work has been copied depending on its importance to the overall work this can be sufficient to constitute infringement. Therefore even where there are differences between two works, copyright will still be infringed where it can be shown that the subsequent work is based on an earlier work.

This does theoretically give very wide protection to computer software as it is likely that the program would not function without even a small part. In practice this is limited slightly in that it will be considered when looked at in isolation, whether the part taken required the application of some level of skill on the part of the original programmer i.e. if copyright is capable of subsisting in that part.

Jody Tsigarides is a Trainee Solicitor who specialises in Intellectual Property (trade marks, copyright, designs)

About the Author

Lawdit Solicitors offer services and advice for litigation, commercial contracts, Intellectual Property and IT legal agreements. We are experts in commercial law with a heavy emphasis on Intellectual Property, Internet and e-commerce law. Lawdit is a member of the International Trademark Association, the Solicitors' Association of Higher Court Advocates and we are the appointed Solicitors to the largest webdesign association in the world, the United Kingdom Website Designers Association.

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Article Published/Sorted/Amended on Scopulus 2008-10-25 00:19:43 in Legal Articles

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