The vast majority of software is protected under the Copyright Act as a work “fixed in a tangible medium of expression.” Some is patented, but copyright automatically affixes itself to any software as it’s being written – and it’s cheap (currently $30) to obtain a registered Copyright. So it’s important sometimes to watch what litigation is going on in the non-software copyright world – because until there are separate laws governing what’s going on with software, the interpretation of existing Copyright laws can have a significant impact on how it “works” with software. One such case will be interesting to watch (even if short-lived) because of the potential impact it would have on the ability to use/reuse “ideas” from someone else.
I’m guessing that some of you have heard about J.K. Rowling’s copyright infringement suit against Steven Vander Ark. Mr. Vander Ark wrote “The Harry Potter Lexicon” – basically a HarryPotter encyclopedia. She’s upset because he’s making money off her characters. Never mind the fact that she loved the online version of the Lexicon so much that she admitted to using it while writing several of the subsequent novels when she needed to quickly look up facts and info about her own series.
Well – before there was Harry Potter, there was EndersGame by Orson Scott Card. If you’re not into speculative science fiction, you may not have heard of the book… suffice it to say that it’s good – and popular.
Mr. Card recently wrote an article addressing, in plain terms, the issues at hand… and taking Ms. Rowling to task for her hypocrisy. As the saying goes, “daaaaaang!”