software law


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software law

(legal)
Software may, under various circumstances and in various countries, be restricted by patent or copyright or both. Most commercial software is sold under some kind of software license.

A patent normally covers the design of something with a function such as a machine or process. Copyright restricts the right to make and distribute copies of something written or recorded, such as a song or a book of recipies. Software has both these aspects - it embodies functional design in the algorithms and data structures it uses and it could also be considered as a recording which can be copied and "performed" (run).

"Look and feel" lawsuits attempt to monopolize well-known command languages; some have succeeded. Copyrights on command languages enforce gratuitous incompatibility, close opportunities for competition, and stifle incremental improvements.

Software patents are even more dangerous; they make every design decision in the development of a program carry a risk of a lawsuit, with draconian pretrial seizure. It is difficult and expensive to find out whether the techniques you consider using are patented; it is impossible to find out whether they will be patented in the future.

The proper use of copyright is to prevent software piracy - unauthorised duplication of software. This is completely different from copying the idea behind the program in the same way that photocopying a book differs from writing another book on the same subject.

Usenet newsgroup: news:misc.legal.computing.

["The Software Developer's and Marketer's Legal Companion", Gene K. Landy, 1993, AW, 0-201-62276-9].
References in periodicals archive ?
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It is worth noting that the UCC is consistent with the recent attempt of the American Law Institute to state the principles of software law.
A successful claim will almost certainly rely on the know-how, professionalism and determination of a two-person team - one an expert in software law and the other fully conversant in the legal technicalities of biotechnology.
Daniel Remer, an expert in software law, uses the service to avoid supporting a costly virtual private network (VPN).

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