Managing copyright for software

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Software copyright is a legal protection provided to the creators of original software, granting them exclusive rights to control the use, distribution, and modification of their work. As software becomes increasingly central to businesses and industries worldwide, ensuring the protection of your software copyright is paramount. A strong software copyright protection strategy can prevent unauthorized use, theft, and infringement, securing your business's intellectual property and helping you maintain a competitive edge in the market.

Managing copyright for software
Managing copyright for software
Table of contents

First, let’s start with the basics, copyright is an intellectual property (IP) that confers protection on a creative work at inception and provides exclusive rights to copy and distribute the work, usually for a limited period of time, in most cases 70 years. It protects all artistic expressions and computer software falls under this purview. Algorithms or the logic behind a software tool do not fall under the protection of copyright or patent law. But the expression of the idea, i.e., the source code of the program, can come under copyright protection.

Copyright infringement is the illegal copying, distribution, or use of a copyrighted material. Software is unique in the sense that it cannot work without being copied. For a software program to run, it must be copied from any tertiary memory device to the system's primary memory. This itself is an unavoidable act of copying.

However, such copying is not considered a crime as it is essential for the software to function. The problem arises when the software code is copied by a third party that aims to gain from such copying. Not only direct copying, but the adaptation of software code into another computer programming language may also fall under copyright infringement.

In order to manage the use, modification and redistribution of software, the copyright owner utilizes a legal instrument known as a software license that grants an end-user with various permissions related to the use, modification and distribution of a software, subject to certain restrictions. In this way, software licenses are a tool against copyright infringement.

Therefore companies, to ensure they are not infringing on the copyright of a software they use or integrate into their software product, must ensure that they are compliant with the underlying license. Thus, the copyright risk presented by software is commonly referred to as compliance risk.

Best practices for managing Intellectual Property rights for software

1. Register your software copyright: Registering your software copyright with the appropriate agency provides legal evidence of ownership and facilitates taking legal action against potential infringers. In cases where national copyright repositories are unavailable, depositing your software's source code with a trusted third party can serve as an alternative means of protection. This ensures that there is a secure, independent record of your software, which can be used as evidence of your ownership and originality in case of disputes or infringement claims.

2. Implement Software Escrow agreements: Software Escrow agreements protect both software developers and users. These agreements involve depositing the software's source code with a trusted third party, ensuring access to critical software in case the developer is unable or unwilling to maintain it. Escrow agreements can help prevent disputes and maintain business continuity.

3. Conduct Technology Due Diligence: Performing Technology Due Diligence allows you to identify potential intellectual property risks and vulnerabilities in your software, including third-party components that may infringe on others' copyrights. Regular due diligence can ensure compliance and mitigate legal risks.

4. Monitor and enforce your software copyright: Actively monitor the market for potential infringements of your software copyright. Should you discover unauthorized use, consult with legal professionals to enforce your rights and take appropriate action, such as issuing cease-and-desist letters or pursuing litigation.

5. Educate employees and partners: Ensuring that your employees and partners understand the importance of software copyright and intellectual property rights is vital. Implementing training programs and establishing clear policies can help minimize the risk of inadvertent infringement or unauthorized disclosure.

6. Implementing robust license compliance programs: This helps to ensure adherence to license terms and conditions, which is vital for businesses developing, selling, or licensing software and those relying on software to run their operations. With the majority of software-related IP law centering around license compliance, businesses cannot afford to neglect this critical aspect of software copyright management.

In conclusion, managing intellectual property rights for software is essential for any business operating in the digital realm. Implementing best practices, such as registering your software copyright, utilizing Software Escrow agreements, and conducting Technology Due Diligence, can help you secure your intellectual property and maintain your competitive edge.

Vaultinum offers a wide range of services to help businesses protect and manage their software copyright effectively. With expertise in software copyright solutions such as source code deposit, Software Escrow, and Technology Due Diligence, Vaultinum is a trusted partner for safeguarding your intellectual property rights. Our experienced team works closely with clients to develop tailored strategies that address their unique needs and challenges.



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Philippe ThomasPhilippe is the CEO of Vaultinum. An expert in new technologies and high finance, and after 20 years in the international fintech industry, Philippe now heads Vaultinum.

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