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Copyright Control

Oct 06, 2009, 18:03 (0 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by Justin Ryan)

"As with anything, the nature of copyright is not black and white — there are not just shades of gray, but a whole rainbow of copyright colors.

"One item to clarify before going forward: copyrights should not be confused with patents, which are even more contentious, especially in the software world. Copyright, at least in the United States, is automatic — copyright attaches to content as soon as it is created. (The option exists to register ones copyright, but doing so provides protections in addition to those imparted automatically.) Copyright protects creations — written material, works of art, musical compositions, etc. — from being used or claimed by others, much the way trespassing laws protect ones home from being used or claimed by others and a whole host of laws protect ones children from the same.

"Patents also involve creations — inventions, advancements, and technologies. Like copyright, they prevent unauthorized use, in their case of an invention, but do so for a limited time. Unlike copyright, they are not automatically attached at creation, and indeed, may not be granted at all. Patents are something of a reward for openness — an ironic twist considering their use, we admit — the patent holder can only be granted exclusive use of their creation by patent after they reveal the details of their invention to the public at large. (The etymological root of patent is patere, meaning "to be open.")"

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