Can a Programming Code be copyrighted? 

Last Updated at: July 17, 2020
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Can a Programming Code be copyrighted

‘Copyright’ is a legal term. Copyright acts as a safeguard to protect an original creation legally. All created works are Copyrighted. Computer Programming Code can be registered as ‘literary works’ under the Copyright Act.

Copyright to Programming Code

A computer program, including its source code and object code, is a set of instructions for a computer to perform that brings about a certain result. Generally, a program is protected by a series of copyrights because each addition or modification to the programming code showing sufficient originality is protected under the Law of Copyright. 

Work should be recorded into some tangible medium to get copyright protection. Copyright is automatic from the moment the computer program represents in a tangible form such as ROM, disk, Magnetic Tape, etc. because the form of expression of an idea gets protection under the Copyright Act but not the idea itself.  

In India, the Copyright Act 1957 protects the Intellectual Property Rights (original expression) of computer software. Computer programs are literary works as per the definition in the Indian Copyright Act. Computer software can have copyright unless it leads to a technical effect. The computer software with a technical effect has a registration for a patent under the Indian Patent Act 1970. Copyright protection varies from country to country.

Copyright your code

Is Software Licensing important?

  1. You already have a copyright on your work. But Copyright should be registered legally so that you have the much-needed protection and remedies against programming code theft and other infringements.
  2. The tech industry is booming with intense competition in India. Obtaining copyright for your work is important for long-term existence and success.
  3. Copyrighting provides the following rights to the creator of the program:
  • Right to reproduce the code in any form 
  • Moreover, right to issue copies of the code 
  • Right to make any modification or addition to the code
  • Additionally, the right to license and sell the code

Nowadays the term “Copyright” is for more understanding to people which means “receives a DMCA notice for copyright infringement”. 

Types of Software Licenses

There are three main categories of Software licenses distinguishes in terms of the effects they have on the user’s rights.

  1. Proprietary Software License (Closed Source Software): It is the most restrictive license agreement to protect intellectual property. Programming codes are by the programmers originally and not available to the users. People can use the software but they cannot redistribute it. For example, the operating system of Windows and Mac.
  2. Free Software License: It is a software license wherein owners provide the privilege to users to modify or redistribute the copyrighted work which would otherwise be prohibited by copyright law.
  3. Open-Source software License: The open-source software license enables the other developers to view and modify the programming code. Additionally, software under this category usually has research and develops with the collaboration of open developer communities. They are available for free. There are no restrictions to sell it following the terms of the license of the original software. Licensees provide royalty-free copies. For example, the General Public License(GNU) is an open-source software license.

Among the above, the Open source software license is most popular in the market.

How to apply for the License

You can apply for software copyright registration online or offline. You have to submit copies of your source code and object code in executable format. The registration fee for the software license is Rs.500. 

Registration channels are: 

  • Online Application 
  • Fill and submit the form at the Copyright Government Office at Boudhik Sampada Bhawan, Delhi
  • Download form, print it, fill it, and send it by post to the Copyright Office. 

Copyright Registration Form

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Question 1: Can source code be copyrighted?

Answer: The best way to protect the source code is to treat it as intellectual property and protect under Copyright law. Further, under India’s Copyright Act 1957, source code has protection against precise copying.

It should be known that the form of expression of an idea gets protection under the Copyright Act but not the idea itself. In the case of a software program, both source code (human-readable) and object code (machine-executable) gets protection by copyright law. Though, the algorithms within a program will not consider a protected expression. 

Question 2: How do you write the copyright code?

Answer: The copyright code or notice includes:

The copyright symbol © OR the word “Copyright”.

The first publication year.

The copyright holder’s name.

Question 3: Can songs be copyrighted?

Answer: Songs have automatically copyright at the moment you produce it in a tangible form – on paper or an audio recording. Your original song on paper or its recording has protection by law and no one can use it without your permission.

You must register your work even if it has copyright automatically. Legal registration in the court of law needs for several reasons such as a certificate of registration, statutory eligibility for damages, fees of attorney, successful litigation.

Question 4: What can and Cannot be copyrighted?

Answer: A created product that requires significant mental activity becomes an intellectual property and can be protected against unauthorized duplication. 

  • Works that can be copyrighted

Computer software, Artistic work, Poetry, Graphics, Song Lyrics and Musical compositions, novels, movies, architectural work, website content, etc. 

Works that don’t have copyright protection:

  • Ideas, Methods, or Systems: making things, technical methods, mathematical principles, formulas, or any other method of operation. 
  • Commonly Known Information: Items that has consideration on common property for example standard calendars, telephone directories, rulers, and lists. 
  • Names, Titles, Short Phrases, or Expressions: They dont have protection by copyright however they can have protection with a trademark in case of a business. 
  • Choreographic Works: It cannot have copyright issues unless it has videotape or notat. Because work must fix in a tangible form of expression. 
  • Fashion: A specific fabric pattern can have protection but not the actual dress. 

 

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Can a Programming Code be copyrighted? 

1454

‘Copyright’ is a legal term. Copyright acts as a safeguard to protect an original creation legally. All created works are Copyrighted. Computer Programming Code can be registered as ‘literary works’ under the Copyright Act.

Copyright to Programming Code

A computer program, including its source code and object code, is a set of instructions for a computer to perform that brings about a certain result. Generally, a program is protected by a series of copyrights because each addition or modification to the programming code showing sufficient originality is protected under the Law of Copyright. 

Work should be recorded into some tangible medium to get copyright protection. Copyright is automatic from the moment the computer program represents in a tangible form such as ROM, disk, Magnetic Tape, etc. because the form of expression of an idea gets protection under the Copyright Act but not the idea itself.  

In India, the Copyright Act 1957 protects the Intellectual Property Rights (original expression) of computer software. Computer programs are literary works as per the definition in the Indian Copyright Act. Computer software can have copyright unless it leads to a technical effect. The computer software with a technical effect has a registration for a patent under the Indian Patent Act 1970. Copyright protection varies from country to country.

Copyright your code

Is Software Licensing important?

  1. You already have a copyright on your work. But Copyright should be registered legally so that you have the much-needed protection and remedies against programming code theft and other infringements.
  2. The tech industry is booming with intense competition in India. Obtaining copyright for your work is important for long-term existence and success.
  3. Copyrighting provides the following rights to the creator of the program:
  • Right to reproduce the code in any form 
  • Moreover, right to issue copies of the code 
  • Right to make any modification or addition to the code
  • Additionally, the right to license and sell the code

Nowadays the term “Copyright” is for more understanding to people which means “receives a DMCA notice for copyright infringement”. 

Types of Software Licenses

There are three main categories of Software licenses distinguishes in terms of the effects they have on the user’s rights.

  1. Proprietary Software License (Closed Source Software): It is the most restrictive license agreement to protect intellectual property. Programming codes are by the programmers originally and not available to the users. People can use the software but they cannot redistribute it. For example, the operating system of Windows and Mac.
  2. Free Software License: It is a software license wherein owners provide the privilege to users to modify or redistribute the copyrighted work which would otherwise be prohibited by copyright law.
  3. Open-Source software License: The open-source software license enables the other developers to view and modify the programming code. Additionally, software under this category usually has research and develops with the collaboration of open developer communities. They are available for free. There are no restrictions to sell it following the terms of the license of the original software. Licensees provide royalty-free copies. For example, the General Public License(GNU) is an open-source software license.

Among the above, the Open source software license is most popular in the market.

How to apply for the License

You can apply for software copyright registration online or offline. You have to submit copies of your source code and object code in executable format. The registration fee for the software license is Rs.500. 

Registration channels are: 

  • Online Application 
  • Fill and submit the form at the Copyright Government Office at Boudhik Sampada Bhawan, Delhi
  • Download form, print it, fill it, and send it by post to the Copyright Office. 

Copyright Registration Form

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Question 1: Can source code be copyrighted?

Answer: The best way to protect the source code is to treat it as intellectual property and protect under Copyright law. Further, under India’s Copyright Act 1957, source code has protection against precise copying.

It should be known that the form of expression of an idea gets protection under the Copyright Act but not the idea itself. In the case of a software program, both source code (human-readable) and object code (machine-executable) gets protection by copyright law. Though, the algorithms within a program will not consider a protected expression. 

Question 2: How do you write the copyright code?

Answer: The copyright code or notice includes:

The copyright symbol © OR the word “Copyright”.

The first publication year.

The copyright holder’s name.

Question 3: Can songs be copyrighted?

Answer: Songs have automatically copyright at the moment you produce it in a tangible form – on paper or an audio recording. Your original song on paper or its recording has protection by law and no one can use it without your permission.

You must register your work even if it has copyright automatically. Legal registration in the court of law needs for several reasons such as a certificate of registration, statutory eligibility for damages, fees of attorney, successful litigation.

Question 4: What can and Cannot be copyrighted?

Answer: A created product that requires significant mental activity becomes an intellectual property and can be protected against unauthorized duplication. 

  • Works that can be copyrighted

Computer software, Artistic work, Poetry, Graphics, Song Lyrics and Musical compositions, novels, movies, architectural work, website content, etc. 

Works that don’t have copyright protection:

  • Ideas, Methods, or Systems: making things, technical methods, mathematical principles, formulas, or any other method of operation. 
  • Commonly Known Information: Items that has consideration on common property for example standard calendars, telephone directories, rulers, and lists. 
  • Names, Titles, Short Phrases, or Expressions: They dont have protection by copyright however they can have protection with a trademark in case of a business. 
  • Choreographic Works: It cannot have copyright issues unless it has videotape or notat. Because work must fix in a tangible form of expression. 
  • Fashion: A specific fabric pattern can have protection but not the actual dress. 

 

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