- Ian J. LloydIan J. LloydFormerly Senior Specialist, HSU, National Research University, Russian Federation and Visiting Professor, Open University of Tanzania
This chapter discusses protection under the law of copyright. Topics covered include copyright basics; obtaining copyright; forms of protected work; the requirement of originality; copyright ownership; copyright infringement; the nature of copying; other rights belonging to the copyright owner; the development of software copyright; and literal and non-literal copying. The law of copyright is perhaps the major branch of intellectual property law relevant to computer software. Virtually every piece of software will be protected by copyright. The main issue concerns the extent of the protection that is offered. Computer programs are generally protected as literary works. This was appropriate in the early days where computers performed essentially functional tasks – often associated with mathematical calculations. It is arguable that modern software, which often makes extensive use of graphical images, is more akin to an artistic work than a literary one. Regardless of categorization, the courts in the United Kingdom have applied a narrow interpretation of the scope of copyright. Reproduction of the underlying code will be unlawful but replication through independent work of the effects produced by the code (often referred to a non-literal copying) will not.