THE INTELLECTUAL
PROPERTY OF SOURCE
CODE
Michael Musick
INTRODUCTION
• Who owns software and the different types of developers
• The different types of licenses that covers software development
• The problem of piracy and how developers deal with it
• What aspects of software is considered owned
YOU BOUGHT THE SOFTWARE,
DON’T YOU OWN IT?
• No, you don’t what you purchased was a license to use the software
• It is a popular belief that users own whatever software they buy and can do
whatever they want with it
• The licenses tied to software comes in two forms: Open Source Licenses and
the End User License Agreement (EULA)
• There are two groups of people, those who support open source
development, and those who want a return on the time and money
invested into software development
• There are two types of open software developers – those who feel software
should be owned and those who dont
PIRACY
• People illegally downloading software costs companies millions of dollars per
year
• Companies like Microsoft traditionally respond to acts of piracy through
lawsuits – a large portion of these lawsuits comes from tips from their
customers
• Video game developers combat piracy through uploading modified version
of their games to file sharing sites
• The most ironic case of this was the modified version of Game Dev Tycoon
WHAT PARTS OF SOFTWARE CAN
SOMEONE OWN?
• Developers can own software, but only specific protectable parts
• Source code – written by the programmer in a high level computer
language
• Object code – a machine language translation of the source code
• Algorithm – the sequence of machine commands that the source code and
object code represent
• Look and feel of a program – The way the program appears on the screen
and interfaces with users
HOW DO DEVELOPERS PROTECT
THEIR SOFTWARE
• Patents – A 20 year exclusive monopoly to make, use and sell an invention
Patents protect nearly everything involved with the invention
• Copyrights – A copyright duration can be the author’s life plus fifty years
or in a work for hire situation seventy five years from the date it was published
Copyrights protect the source code, object code (machine language), and
unique aspects of the GUI
• Trade secrets – Can theoretically last forever but not subject to infringement
protection
Does offer theft protection so long as the secret is not generally known and
reasonable steps have been taken to keep it a secret
LICENSES AND WHAT THEY DO
• Open Source Licenses – GNU General Public License, BSD License, MIT
License, Apache License, Creative Commons
• Creative Commons licenses are not quite open source licenses
• Open source licenses are generally used to allow open source developers to
freely distribute their software and keep it protected (It keeps other people
from stealing their work and claiming it as their own)
• End User License Agreement – That long thing that no one bothers to read
when installing software
SECTIONS OF THE END USER
LICENSE AGREEMENT
• Grant of License – tells the user what their license rights are and by
accepting the EULA you agree to not sell, share or distribute the software
• Licensing Restrictions – tells the user what they can and cannot do with the
software
• Ownership – this is the part where the user is told that they do not own the
software they are granted a license to use it
• Audit Rights – gives the vendor the right to audit the user at anytime
• Termination – gives the vendor the right to terminate software use if the user
violates terms set forth by the EULA
• Warranty – Tells the user that the software is sol as is, what you see is what
you get there is no warranty
END USER LICENSE AGREEMENT
CONTINUED
• Damages – This section states that the vendor accepts no responsibility for
damages incurred through use of the software
• Limitation of Liability – If the vendor has to pay out money for damages
incurred through use of the software this limits the amount that the vendor
has to pay out (the last part makes this bit rather meaningless)
ISSUES WITH THE EULA
• Length – they are extremely long and most users won’t take the time to read
them
• Readability – The way the EULA is worded makes it hard to read and
understand, the average user will have a hard time understand what is
being said
• Click through aspect – Since most users don’t read through a EULA since it is
so easy to just click ‘I agree’ and continue most users won’t know what they
are agreeing to
QUESTIONS?
REFERENCES
• http://www.cracked.com/article_19162_6-hilarious-ways-game-designers-arescrewing-with-pirates_p2.html
• http://www.eurogamer.net/articles/2013-04-29-game-dev-tycoon-forces-those-whopirate-the-game-to-unwittingly-fail-from-piracy
• http://www.cnet.com/news/microsoft-settles-thousands-of-software-piracy-cases/
• http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/ethics-computer/#IntPro
• http://www.freibrun.com/articles/articl2.htm
• http://www.smashingmagazine.com/2010/03/24/a-short-guide-to-open-source-andsimilar-licenses/
• http://www.itassetmanagement.net/2014/06/04/eulas-explained-in-simple-terms/
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The intellectual property of source code