Software piracy is a rising problem not only in the United States, but around the world. In 1993 worldwide software piracy cost 12. 5 billion dollars to the software industry, with a loss of 2. 2 billion dollars in the United States alone. Estimates show that over 40 percent of U. S. software company revenues are generated overseas, yet nearly 85 percent of the software industry’s piracy losses occurred outside of the United States borders.
The Software Publishers Association indicated that approximately 35 percent of the business software in the United States were obtained illegally, which 30 percent of the piracy occurs in corporate settings. In a corporate setting or business, every computer must have its own set of original software and the appropriate number of manuals. It is illegal for a corporation or business to purchase a single set of original software and than load that software onto more than one computer, or lend, copy or distribute software for any reason without the prior written consent of the software manufacturer.
Many software managers are concerned with the legal compliance, along with asset management and costs at their organizations. Many firms involve their legal departments and human resources in regards to software distribution and licensing. In 1974, Congress created the Natural Commission on New Technological Uses (CONTU) to investigate whether the evolving computer technology field outpaced the existing copyright laws and also to determine the extent of copyright protection for computer programs.
CONTU concluded that while copyright protection should extend beyond the literal source code of a computer program, evolving case law should determine the extent of protection. The commission also felt that copyright was the best alternative among existing intellectual property protective mechanisms, and CONTU rejected trade secret and patents as viable protective mechanisms. The CONTU report resulted in the 1980 Computer Software Act, and the report acts as informal legislative history to aid the courts in interpreting the Act.
In 1980 The Copyright Act was amended to explicitly include computer programs. Title 17 to the United States Code states that it is illegal to make or to distribute copies of copyrighted material without authorization, except for the users right to make a single backup copy for archival purposes. Any written material (including computer programs) fixed in a tangible form is considered copyrighted without any additional action on the part of the author.
Therefore, it is not necessary that a copy of the software program be deposited with the Copyright Office in Washington, D. C. for the program to be protected as copyrighted. With that in mind then a copyright is a property right only. In order to prevent anyone from selling your software programs, you must ask a federal court to stop that person by an injunction and to give you damages for the injury they have done to you by selling the program.
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