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.”
Imagine this . . . You have commissioned a graphic designer to come up with the perfect logo for your business.
After a while the designer comes back with your finished logo.
You are perfectly happy.
You pay the money.
The job is complete.
You assume you own the logo and are free to use it anytime, any place, anywhere.
Unfortunately, this may be the start of your troubles, because unless you have a documented transfer of the copyright by way of an assignment from the designer, the logo is still owned by the designer.
The job is, therefore, not finished, as the copyright issues are still hanging in the balance.
Payment Does Not Confer Automatic Copyright or Intellectual Property Ownership
So, this scenario may be extreme, after all, you have commissioned a logo – your brand identity – and what else are you going to do with your brand identify apart from use it wherever and whenever you can?