In this case, courts ruled that altering a game’s content in a certain ways did not violate copyright laws. It resulted in gaming giant Nintendo paying 15 million in losses to the little guy, Lewis Galoob Toys, Inc.
Situations where potential venture capital investors are grilling start-up management always seems to bring the T.V. show “Shark Tank” to mind.
I don’t know how many times I watched as one of the “sharks” on that show told some poor business bait that money would be offered to invest based on a plan to market a license on an app program that showed great potential.
The shark sure sounds like he knows what he is talking about. Or does he.
Because we know that before licensing anything a startup manager needs to have procured a solid copyright.
The United States Copyright Office defines a “computer program” as a set of statements or instructions to be used directly or indirectly in a computer in order to bring about a certain result.
The Copyright Office tells us that “copyright protection extends to all of the copyrightable expression embodied in a computer program,” but no copyright protection is available for “ideas, program logic, algorithms, systems, methods, concepts, or layouts.”
A web developer may create and develop copyrightable code for a website or app commissioned by a client, but he may have no clue as to the process of copyrighting that code or licensing website content.
1. “I’m a web developer — not a copyright expert.”
A web developer may know everything possible that there is to know about computer programming, the development of World Wide Web applications and distributed network applications run from a web server to a web browser but he may be completely in the dark as to the Intellectual Property rights and interests that arise in connection with any program or web application that he develops for a client.
A web developer shouldn’t be expected to provide legal advice as to the rights and responsibilities a client may have in regard to preserving and protecting intellectual property interests in the computer programs and web applications that he creates.
2. “If you don’t know what I’m selling, you probably don’t know what you’re buying.”
A copyright confers on its owner a bundle of rights and interests.
But before that copyright interest or right can be validly transferred or assigned to another person or entity, the copyright owner must be sure that they presently own in part or in full the copyright interest that is to be transferred.
Determining copyright ownership means going back to the very origins of the creation or work and tracing all the facts concerning copyright ownership going forward to the present in a “chain of title” search that is similar a real estate title search used to validate land ownership.
If the copyright has never been assigned or licensed or if a previous licensing agreement has expired then the copyright owner is free to assign or license his rights in his work.
Imagine for a moment you have been working hard on your writing all morning.
You stomach is empty and your eyes are aching.
You step out for a break at the local coffee shop.
You have thirty five dollars in your wallet. You can almost taste the confections displayed in the glass case and you can smell the fresh coffee brewing on the bar.
Suddenly a threatening stranger demands that you turn the contents of your wallet over to him.
Would you quietly do as you are told only to go hungry and watch as he spends your money on a stack of tasty snacks?
Web content mills demand that freelance writers hand over their Intellectual Property, their copyrights, for free.
When a writer signs either electronically or on paper a “Writer’s Agreement” or similar so-called “contract” agreeing to submit work acting as an independent contractor or freelancer and that agreement includes a clause that requires that the writer upon submission release all copyright interests he has in his work regardless of subsequent approval and payment he falls prey to the content mill’s copyright high-jacking scam.
Guest post by J. Michael Allen. an intellectual property attorney and Co-founder of Copypedia.
It’s 2014 and the internet continues to evolve and amaze – today we routinely use tablets and touchscreens, and utter phrases like “Google it” or “there’s an app for that”.
Luckily just like the thankful death of black and white TV, gone are the days of dial up modem connections (and irritating disconnections) and clunky laptops.
Today you can be riding in a car, and with a simple ‘click’ on a mobile device, send (or post, share, Tweet, Like, etc.) information to another person on the other side of the planet in the blink of an eye.
A Culture of Copyists
Unfortunately just as easy and fast as it is to send information in the digital age, it is just as easy to copy someone else’s content, and with the sheer magnitude of people (some say 2 billion-ish) using the internet, let alone robots or other automatic programming, there is zero chance to stop it.