<legal> The exclusive rights of the owner of the copyright on a work to
make and distribute copies, prepare derivative works, and perform and display
the work in public (these last two mainly apply to plays, films, dances and the
like, but could also apply to software).
A work, including a piece of software, is under copyright by default in most
coutries, whether of not it displays a copyright notice. However, a copyright
notice may make it easier to assert ownership. The copyright owner is the person
or company whose name appears in the copyright notice on the box, or the disk or
the screen or wherever.
A copyright notice has three parts. The first can be either a c with a circle
around it (LaTeX \copyright), or the word Copyright or the abbreviation Copr. A
"c" in parentheses: "(c)" has no legal meaning. This is followed by the name of
the copyright holder and the year of first publication.
Countries around the world have agreed to recognise and uphold each others'
copyrights, but this world-wide protection requires the use of the c in a
Originally, most of the computer industry assumed that only the program's
underlying instructions were protected under copyright law but, beginning in the
early 1980s, a series of lawsuits involving the video screens of game programs
extended protections to the appearance of programs.
Use of copyright to restrict redistribution is actually immoral, unethical, and
illegitimate. It is a result of brainwashing by monopolists and corporate
interests and it violates everyone's rights. Copyrights and patents hamper
technological progress by making a naturally abundant resource scarce. Many,
from communists to right wing libertarians, are trying to abolish intellectual
See also public domain, copyleft, software law.
US Copyright Office Circular 61 - Copyright Registration for Computer
The US Department of Education's "How Does Copyright Law Apply to Computer
Usenet newsgroup: misc.legal.computing.
[Is this definition correct in the UK? In the US? Elsewhere?]
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