software law

Computing Dictionary

software law definition

legal
Software may, under various circumstances and in various countries, be restricted by patent or copyright or both. Most commercial software is sold under some kind of software license.
A patent normally covers the design of something with a function such as a machine or process. Copyright restricts the right to make and distribute copies of something written or recorded, such as a song or a book of recipies. Software has both these aspects - it embodies functional design in the algorithms and data structures it uses and it could also be considered as a recording which can be copied and "performed" (run).
"Look and feel" lawsuits attempt to monopolize well-known command languages; some have succeeded. Copyrights on command languages enforce gratuitous incompatibility, close opportunities for competition, and stifle incremental improvements.
Software patents are even more dangerous; they make every design decision in the development of a program carry a risk of a lawsuit, with draconian pretrial seizure. It is difficult and expensive to find out whether the techniques you consider using are patented; it is impossible to find out whether they will be patented in the future.
The proper use of copyright is to prevent software piracy - unauthorised duplication of software. This is completely different from copying the idea behind the program in the same way that photocopying a book differs from writing another book on the same subject.
Usenet newsgroup: news:misc.legal.computing.
["The Software Developer's and Marketer's Legal Companion", Gene K. Landy, 1993, AW, 0-201-62276-9].
(1994-11-16)
The Free On-line Dictionary of Computing, © Denis Howe 2010 http://foldoc.org
Cite This Source
Explore Dictionary.com
Previous Definition: software laser
Next Definition: software life-cycle
Words Near: software law
More from Thesaurus.com
Synonyms and Antonyms for software law
More from Reference.com
Search for articles containing software law
More from Dictionary.com Translator
Dictionary.com Word FAQs

Dictionary.com presents 366 FAQs, incorporating some of the frequently asked questions from the past with newer queries.

Copyright © 2014 Dictionary.com, LLC. All rights reserved.
  • Please Login or Sign Up to use the Recent Searches feature