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How Can a Developer Copyright?
by Gregory Hamel, Demand Media
Small businesses often seek to make a profit by taking advantage of a new idea or new creative work. In the modern economy, new works of authorship can take many different forms, including software code, images and models used to write mobile applications and other computer software. Computer programs are a form of intellectual property that can be protected by copyrights.
A copyright is a form of intellectual property protection that protects the authors of original creative works against unauthorized copying and distribution of their works. According to the U.S. Copyright office, computer software is considered a form of literary work, meaning the authors of new computer programs are protected under copyright laws. When an author creates a new work, he automatically gains a copyright on the work. In other words, a software developer does not technically have to do anything to get a copyright besides creating the work in the first place.
While creating a new work grants the creator a copyright over the work, the U.S. Copyright Office allows creators to register their copyrights. Copyright registration confers benefits such as entering the work into the official public record and giving the creator greater power to sue for copyright infringement. In other words, registration allows a creator to defend his work more easily if someone tries to copy it.
Online Registration Process
The U.S. Copyright Office allows creators of computer software and other creative works to apply for copyright registration online through the eCO Online System. Online registration requires creating an account with eCO, completing various application forms and submitting them digitally. For software copyrights, the first 25 pages of code and final 25 pages of code must be included with the application, as well as copies of artwork and audiovisual content. A registration fee of $35 must accompany online applications. The U.S. Copyright office provides a detailed tutorial for completing online applications.
A patent is another form of intellectual property protection that covers new useful inventions and product designs. The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office does not specifically address computer software, making software patent protection a legal gray area, but computer programs that introduce new useful processes may be eligible for patent protection. Applying for a patent is a far more complex and costly legal process than copyright registration that typically requires hiring legal professionals.