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Copyright Compliance - Coding Authentication


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#1 3Ddreamer   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 3160

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Posted 10 March 2013 - 09:47 PM

Hi,

 

There is no way to make this quick, so bear with me, please.

 

I need a good general picture of what I am actually facing with two companies now and will certainly need again within the next couple years in the tools and knowledge to check for copyright compliance.  This is a kind of "point me in the right direction" kind of thread.smile.png    I have a nondisclosure agreement in my situation, so please don't ask about company matters.

 

The time has come for me to learn how to evaluate coding for originality and copyright reasons. Once in a while I have read a single reply here or brief conversation about it there, but after searching I see the need to start a thread on it.  I did not put this in business and law because some of the things in here not related to it and it is more IT.

 

I know almost nothing about this, so please be patient.  Technical help is sought here and not business or law help which are covered by my company. Yes - it is in our industry. smile.png

 

 

 

Subject:  Checking Copyright Compliance of Coding - Verify that code is not in violation of copyright. (Makes me wonder about software to check compliance and make a copyright all in one)

 

 

Questions:  Where can I go here at gamedev or online to learn about how to verify the copyright compliance of coding done by me or other coders?

 

What software, procedures, and documents do you use for this?

 

How does copyright compliance checking fit into Software Configuration Management or relate to it?  (For example, the following year a new version of the software is released with the next year's copyright, so wouldn't SCM have a part in it or implement the check for copyright compliance?)

 

What team or department of a company should be responsible for checking copyright compliance? (SCM?)

 

 

 

Note:

The core need is to be able to evaluate that the coding which our company will be using is not violating someone else's copyright ( and if so, let us know who the party is so we may attempt to obtain permission to use the coding which is in question if possible.)

 

We are talking about verifying that coding sent to or from us does not violate someone's copyright in the world for accountability purposes.  We do not steal, copy and paste, and hope for the best, okay?

 

We want to make sure that the coders are not stealing and violating other's copyright to the best of our ability. We want all code used in our software to be legal.

 

 

 

 

 

Clinton


Edited by 3Ddreamer, 11 March 2013 - 02:11 AM.

Personal life and your private thoughts always effect your career. Research is the intellectual backbone of game development and the first order. Version Control is crucial for full management of applications and software.  The better the workflow pipeline, then the greater the potential output for a quality game.  Completing projects is the last but finest order.

 

by Clinton, 3Ddreamer


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#2 SimonForsman   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 6293

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Posted 11 March 2013 - 01:42 AM

The easy way:

Don't copy other peoples code/art/etc without first obtaining a license under suitable terms.

 

Copyright is automatic, there is no such thing as "making a copyright", if you write the code you own the copyright to it.


I don't suffer from insanity, I'm enjoying every minute of it.
The voices in my head may not be real, but they have some good ideas!

#3 3Ddreamer   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 3160

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Posted 11 March 2013 - 01:50 AM

The easy way:

Don't copy other peoples code/art/etc without first obtaining a license under suitable terms.

 

Copyright is automatic, there is no such thing as "making a copyright", if you write the code you own the copyright to it.

 

SimonForsman ,

 

Didn't you understand that we are seeking to be legal and legitimate?  We don't use vulture tactics - never!

 

We are talking about verifying that coding sent to or from us does not violate someone's copyright in the world for accountability purposes.

 

You don't seem to understand the need to check somehow to see if the coders are stealing code from out there.


Edited by 3Ddreamer, 11 March 2013 - 02:01 AM.

Personal life and your private thoughts always effect your career. Research is the intellectual backbone of game development and the first order. Version Control is crucial for full management of applications and software.  The better the workflow pipeline, then the greater the potential output for a quality game.  Completing projects is the last but finest order.

 

by Clinton, 3Ddreamer


#4 Yourself   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 1187

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Posted 11 March 2013 - 02:24 AM

I do not thing that you can find a decent solution besides an ethical code and/or contract.

You could use a script to check the code against every code publicly available (but that takes a lot of time and resources, and does not check proprietary/private code).

I would simple let the people that write/commit code sign a contract (NDA kind of thing) that states that they are responsible for any copyright infringements (and all legal activities following it).


Edited by Yourself, 11 March 2013 - 02:25 AM.


#5 Pyrocute   GDNet+   -  Reputation: 288

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Posted 11 March 2013 - 03:51 AM

Most of the code headers will give the info of the copyright and author.

Keep a copy or reference to the original code that is used so that the copyright if violated knowingly or unknowingly, the coder's ass is saved.

Always use code which is given in bundle as in.. API or documents.

Alternative to copyrighted code will be available some or the other way.

Open source alternative is also there but some companies do not allow open source to be implemented.

 

Even if the code was used in violation of the copyright, its not easily proved in general.  And it may lead to a long legal battle. Also code which is too old like 10 years is probably not binding to the copyright anymore, unless its a big player who registered it again.

And an updated version is already running in the markets.

Saurabh



#6 SimonForsman   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 6293

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Posted 11 March 2013 - 05:27 AM

If you have external staff that you cannot trust then you're in a very difficult position, you could use diff (http://unixhelp.ed.ac.uk/CGI/man-cgi?diff) to compare your code to any publicly available code out there.

You would have to keep a library of publicly available code to check your code against though and it will be extremely difficult to automate since it is virtually impossible to write a unique line of code (Thus you still have to go through all matches manually and try to judge weather or not they are copied or if the similarities are accidental)

 

Copyright lasts for the lifetime of the author + 50-70 years (varies by jurisdiction), for companies it tend to last 70-120 years (new works for hire in the US last the shorter of 120 years from creation or 95 years from publication), pretty much all code out there is copyrighted by someone unless it has been explicitly put in the public domain (Not all jurisdiction lets copyrightholders put their works in the public domain though). (Even code snippets on this website are strictly speaking copyrighted by the author, allthough most of us probably intend for people to use the code we post as they see fit), the US is the only significant country where some really old(30+ years old) code has fallen into the public domain.

 

Registering your copyright is not necessary, copyright is granted automatically as soon as the work is created so it doesn't matter if a company has registered the copyright for the code or not, in the US registration might make litigation easier but in many countries registration is not even possible.

 

In the US works published before 1978 are not covered by copyright unless they are registered, works registered prior to 1978 are copyrighted for 28 years unless renewed, renewal became automatic in 1992 (so a work registered before ~1964 will be in the public domain now if it wasn't renewed, later works were renewed automatically when the US changed the law in 1992), for many other countries copyright became automatic and required neither registration nor renewal in the 1880-1890s (with the Berne convention).

 

Today any work created by an author in a nation that has signed the berne convention gets automatic copyright for his lifetime + atleast 50 years in all signatory nations (individual nations can grant copyright for longer durations in which case the shortest copyright duration of the nation the work was created in and the nation in which the work is distributed applies)

 

Thus: just because something is old, don't assume it is legal to copy it, its not, some copyrightholders may not care enough to actively protect their old copyrights against minor infringements but they are free to change their mind at any time.


Edited by SimonForsman, 11 March 2013 - 07:31 AM.

I don't suffer from insanity, I'm enjoying every minute of it.
The voices in my head may not be real, but they have some good ideas!

#7 Hodgman   Moderators   -  Reputation: 31786

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Posted 11 March 2013 - 05:47 AM

In literature academia there are a lot of tools in this area -- to take a suspicious work and have it automatically compared against as much other work as possible for signs of plagiarism.

I don't know of anything like this for code though.

 

In an professional jobs, it's never been an issue. It's up to each team member to not steal code, and their supervisors to not let people circumvent this rule. If you want to use someone else's code, the license terms would be sent upwards to management/legal for approval.

 

I do imagine this could be a problem if you were outsourcing programming work to cheap external contractors though... You should make sure that your contracts with these people are watertight enough that if someone sues you for copyright infringement because these contractors plagiarized work, you can then in turn sue the contractor (or better, have the original victim sue the contractor).

 

However, if you're using low-quality, untrustworthy contractors where this situation is likely to occur, you probably have bigger issues... like your product not being shippable due to crippling bugs and missing features tongue.png wink.png



#8 Poigahn   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 520

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Posted 11 March 2013 - 05:53 AM

Since I have a couple of copyrights to certain older programs, Maybe I can shed some light.

 

First - (and Bare with me ) Read the copyright laws as it pertains to computer software.

 

Second - Understand that certain routines must follow strict rules of coding, meaning that certain lines of code are going to be the same in each and every program written. So

               duplication of others work is a certaintee.  Hence the reason why Licenses are granted by others, such as Microsoft when you purchase their software.

Now - You can protect your company by creating a release form where you contributors sign stating that the code they are providing is their own, original and intellecyual work.

 

What is not protected by the copyright laws vs. what is protected varies greatly in the computer software world,  For example: An accounting program that follows the general principals of accounting will have the same mathmatical calculations as every other accounting program or risk severe penalties if a company is ever audited. So here the copyright is basically awarded on the method a software developer presents visually it's program to the consumer.  < Think Turbo Tax - Tax Slayer - H&R Block > They all have to use the same math calculations as required by the government.  So the Primary coding is not copyrighted. Just the user interface.

 

Next Example : A WWII game such as Axis & Allies.  Axis & Allies is copyrighted (No One can call their WWII game the same ) The Manner in which the Game is Played is copyrighted ( But limited to their Calculations )  Change that and you changed the copyrights.  I.e., Roll six dice instead of two and you changed something.  Change the method on how it is determined who moves first, and you have changed the copyright.

 

In General,  verifying intellectual copyrights is very difficult.  The only thing you can really, is trust your, and those whom contribute, integrity.


Your Brain contains the Best Program Ever Written : Manage Your Data Wisely !!


#9 landagen   Members   -  Reputation: 376

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Posted 11 March 2013 - 08:09 AM

You could maybe take an alternative route, but I do not know if it would work.  Everyone has their own coding style so in theory you should be able to identify the author.  Maybe you could look at the itself and evaluate that it was indeed written by the author who submitted it.  If it did not appear to be from him/her, then question him/her as to the source for the code. 

 

Edit:  I agree with Hodgman and Poigahn though.  The simplest solution is to put the responsibility on the individual developer and to trust your developers. 


Edited by landagen, 11 March 2013 - 08:28 AM.




#10 Dwarf King   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 1912

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Posted 11 March 2013 - 09:06 AM

I think that this tool should do it when comparing big projects and code bases. Also ask them first before buying or read the product description.

 

About copyright then the one who wrote it owns it(one can also apply for a patent in order to protect one's work better). But one is allowed to be inspired by others and write something similar as long as it is not a copy of the code made by third part.

 

Hope that helps out.


"The only thing that interferes with my learning is my education"

Albert Einstein

"It is a miracle that curiosity survives formal education"

Albert Einstein

 





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