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Copyrighting your code


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#1 Crusable   Members   -  Reputation: 594

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Posted 02 November 2013 - 08:13 PM

Hello, I have never copyrighted any of my code and I am unsure of how to do it. Do I need a registered company? Can I just use my name? Is there a standard message you need to put in with your code? Thanks for any help. Also, I am not sure if this belongs in this forum or not.


Edited by Crusable, 02 November 2013 - 08:14 PM.


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#2 Servant of the Lord   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 21022

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Posted 02 November 2013 - 09:24 PM

Copyrights are automatic. Anything you create is automatically yours: Art, Code, Architecture, Clothing design, House design, Music, Graffiti, Photographs (for example, of nature), Writing, and alot more besides. Even forum posts. You own the post you just made. But you gave GameDev.net permission to share it with others by the nature of your agreement with GameDev.net (depending on the Terms of Service, you might've given them ownership of the post, but I haven't read their terms of service).

You can register your copyrights with the government as an added precaution, but it's not necessary.
Just because it's yours doesn't mean people won't steal it anyway.
But because it's yours companies in the United States and other 1st world non-Chinese nations won't risk getting sued.
Other companies in other countries you can't do anything about, regardless of what legal precautions you take.

Perhaps you mean "licensing"? Licensing is a way to allow others to use your copyrights as long as they follow certain conditions. Licensing is basically a contract permitting others to use what you own.

I like to say, 'copyright is implicit in creation'. The second you create it, it's copyrighted. Automaticly.
If you used someone else's work and modified it to make your work, then you only have a copyright on the changes made, but they still own the original work, and your work is a 'derivative work' of their work - and unless you have permission to use their original work, then you can't use your derived work (but neither can they, because you still own the changed parts).

Works are copyrighted whether they have a message attached to them or not, and regardless of whether they have a name written on them or not. If I paint a picture, I don't have to write on the back of it, "SotL ownz this workz - 2013". It's copyrighted whether I say it is or not. Only if I explicitly release ownership of the copyright into the public domain, or if the copyright expires (What is it currently? My entire life plus 80 more years? Something stupid like that), only then is it no longer copyrighted.

 

But again, just because it is copyrighted doesn't mean some random kid online won't copy it. It only means it's illegal for them to (civil law, not criminal law, afaik).

 

Copyrights are different than Patents. Patents and copyrights are both different than Trademarks.

Trademarks and patents need to be registered, copyrights are optionally registered.

 

Copyrights are designed for the benefit of the creators and, indirectly, the public.

Patents are designed for the benefit of inventors to permit sharing of technology so everyone benefits and civilization advances. It benefits the public indirectly, but majorly.

Trademarks are designed directly for the benefit of the public, but can be beneficial to companies as well.

 

All are man-made ideas that are relatively recent in history (within the past 400 years), and that some nations ignore.

Copyrights and Patents can be abused; Copyrights by being way too long, and patents by some of the issued patents being too vague or too obvious.

But overall the ideas of all three are great ideas that benefit everyone in the long-term, except for the cases where they are abused.

 

Leastwise, that's my opinion. happy.png


Edited by Servant of the Lord, 12 December 2013 - 08:44 PM.

It's perfectly fine to abbreviate my username to 'Servant' rather than copy+pasting it all the time.
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#3 Poigahn   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 520

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Posted 03 November 2013 - 06:42 AM


If you used someone else's work and modified it to make your work, then you only have a copyright on the changes made, but they still own the original work, and your work is a 'derivative work' of their work - and unless you have permission to use their original work, then you can't use your derived work

So I have a follow-up question..  How does this statement apply to program code ?    Since, programming structure must be written following pre-written format to invoke to certain functions such as graphics.  Or when a person is studying game design from a book ?  Do you have permission to use the code that shows a routine in Artificial Intellegence (AI) that shows an algorithym in chasing and evading, and as long as you modify the code and build on that example, are you able yo copyright that code ?


Copyrights are automatic. Anything you create is automatically yours:


You can register your copyrights with the government as an added precaution, but it's not necessary.

  True that in the U.S. of A., that a copyright statement within your code gives the author a certain amount of protection..  does not, if a person feels the need, having an "Official Copyright Certificate" Give that person a means of proof with a Certified Date when the work was completed ?


Do I need a registered company? Can I just use my name? Is there a standard message you need to put in with your code?

To answer these questions...  When you file for "Official Copyright Protection" , you only need your name.  This helps you if you have to show the code to perspective companies trying to make a sale.  Also in your code the remark of "CopyRight 2013 : (YourName)" must be in your code print out when submitting it to the Government.


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


#4 Hodgman   Moderators   -  Reputation: 31843

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Posted 03 November 2013 - 07:42 AM


So I have a follow-up question..  How does this statement apply to program code ?    Since, programming structure must be written following pre-written format to invoke to certain functions such as graphics.  Or when a person is studying game design from a book ?  Do you have permission to use the code that shows a routine in Artificial Intellegence (AI) that shows an algorithym in chasing and evading, and as long as you modify the code and build on that example, are you able yo copyright that code ?
If code is so obvious that it can't be proved whether you copied someone, or whether they independently invented it (e.g. a for loop that sums an array can only be written so many ways), then no one in their right mind would try to sue you for copyright infringement. Imagine trying to argue that in court -- because that's how copyright disputes are resolved generally, in a civil court, not by the police knocking on your door, etc...

To any kind of complex code, there's usually obvious creativity involved, so it's easy to spot outright copies. If someone copies your code (whether they change it or not afterwards), that's infringement.

 

In the front cover of text books, there will usually be a statement along the lines of "no reproduction of any part is allowed, except as permitted by law".

That means, they're exercising their copyright, but the Law will allow you to ignore their copyright in cases of "Fair Use". If you're copying examples out a text book in order to perform the exercises and learn from the materials, it's probably "fair use".

 

If you modify something that you've copied from someone, it becomes a "derivative work", and the same rules apply as if it was still the original. If you copy someone and then change it 90%, you own that 90%, but they still own the 10%, so their copyright still applies as well as yours.



#5 frob   Moderators   -  Reputation: 22732

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Posted 03 November 2013 - 01:08 PM

If you modify something that you've copied from someone, it becomes a "derivative work", and the same rules apply as if it was still the original. If you copy someone and then change it 90%, you own that 90%, but they still own the 10%, so their copyright still applies as well as yours.

That one also varies by country.

If you do not have permission to use the work then in some places the entire derivative work is unlawful and courts will typically find that the entire work belongs to the original work's owner.



Back to the OP. Please state what country you are in. It makes a big difference.

Most counties that matter are parties to international copyright treaties. In most (but not all) of those countries anything that it written or recorded is automatically covered by copyright protection. In some countries you must also include a copyright notice, but in most of the world that is an archaic requirement. Also in most countries that matter, if you intend to sue in the courts you must register your work with the copyright office of the government.

It may seem a little weird, you automatically have the protections of copyright, but if you want to sue somebody for infringement you must register in order to enforce those rights in the courts. If you decide you are never going to sue anybody and don't file with the government you still have the protections, can still tell people to stop using your stuff illegally, can still license and sell your work to others, and can basically do everything except sue infringers.


In the United States, the copyright registration process is fairly easy and relatively inexpensive. You visit the copyright.gov web site, fill out form TX, include a representative chunk of code. (They ask for 50 pages, including the first 25 and last 25 pages. You get to interpret what the first and last pages of source files are.) Also include the representative screen shots, per the current guidelines also found on their web site. Submit the forms and upload the bundle along with the $65 payment. A few weeks later you get a letter from the copyright office either giving you your copyright information or if you made a mistake, informing you of a problem with your submission. You need to register the copyright on each version of the program you release if you intend to enforce the copyrights in the courts.

Check out my book, Game Development with Unity, aimed at beginners who want to build fun games fast.

Also check out my personal website at bryanwagstaff.com, where I write about assorted stuff.





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