Can you own a bit of code?

  • tastysite
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  • Loc: Brighouse, West Yorkshire, England

Post 3+ Months Ago

I have seen a lot of websites to do with php and what not and a lot of them have examples with comments claming onership such as
Code: [ Select ]
 
<?php
// DO NOT TAKE OUT
// this code is copyright of bob the smith visit my website at bobthesmith.com
?>
 
  1.  
  2. <?php
  3. // DO NOT TAKE OUT
  4. // this code is copyright of bob the smith visit my website at bobthesmith.com
  5. ?>
  6.  

And I just wanted to know can you own a bit of code? After all the same code could be come up with by anyone with a bit of php (or whatever code it is) know how. You find it a lot in JS as well.
Any thoughts?
  • joebert
  • Fart Bubbles
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  • Loc: Florida

Post 3+ Months Ago

It's pretty much useless to place copyright notices in code, other than for the psychological effect it might have on a programmer.

Copyright law doesn't stretch cross-country, and American copyright law doesn't protect ideas, concepts, systems, or methods of doing something. If you change the names used for variables/functions/etc, the only thing left is an idea/concept/method-of-doing-something.

Legally, an American could write a piece of code in America, someone in another country could obfuscate that code, then another American could de-obfuscate the code provided by the person overseas and legally there would be no copyright infringement since the only thing being reproduced is a concept/system/etc.

The original writer could still sue the other American since in America anyone can sue anyone for anything, but, a copyright must be registered with the U.S. Copyright office before a court will take it seriously. "Poor mans copyright" isn't going to work either, you have to actually register it with the USCO. Even if the author has registered the copyright and files a lawsuit, leagally, there is nothing a judge can do.

Now, if the original author has applied for and been granted a patent for the underlying methods the code implements, it's a whole different story.


http://www.copyright.gov/
  • dyfrin
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  • Posts: 503
  • Loc: WI

Post 3+ Months Ago

A case could be made for a whole site copy.
It is cases like those that make it to the scotus that modify the laws without ever passing congress.

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