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WEB/DIGITAL copyrighting software/Algorithms

yveskleinsky

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My disclaimer is that I know very little about e-commerce, but I am beginning to realize that I need to learn if I want to get into the fastlane.

My questions (keep in mind the disclaimer!):

1. What is the difference between an algorithm and software?
2. Can both be copyrighted?
3. If I am looking to get a site developed, should I have my webguy sign a NDA and then tell him my ideas?
4.How do I go about obtaining rights (and obtaining the original programming) to the original software/algorithm ...I could really be misusing the word algorithm here. :)

Thanks!
 

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JScott

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In general, think of software as the book, and the algorithm as the words within the book. When you copyright a book, you're not copyrighting the physical thing, you're copying the original content (the words) within it.

Likewise, with software, you can copyright the actual code, disallowing others from physically cutting and pasting your code (the "words") into their software. Just like there is nothing stopping a writer from expressing the same ideas using different words (or the same words in a different order), there is nothing stopping one software developer from creating the same software using different code. Just like there are a million different combinations of words an author could use to express his/her idea in the "same" book, there are a million different ways a software developer can create the "same" software.

That said, you can patent original constructs (the algorithms). For an algorithm to be patentable, it needs to contain an original idea -- usually in the form of an original mathematical construct, an original software flow, an original user interface, or an original technical model. Basically, if you have a new software "invention," you can patent it like any other invention.

In reality, intellectual property protection in the software world is at a weird place right now; unless you have a lot of money and some very good lawyers, it's very different to protect software patents these days, and most big software companies won't even bother to protect their ideas except as an offensive technique to get access to other company's intellectual property.
 

aptohosting

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Aug 16, 2007
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My disclaimer is that I know very little about e-commerce, but I am beginning to realize that I need to learn if I want to get into the fastlane.

My questions (keep in mind the disclaimer!):

1. What is the difference between an algorithm and software?
2. Can both be copyrighted?
3. If I am looking to get a site developed, should I have my webguy sign a NDA and then tell him my ideas?
4.How do I go about obtaining rights (and obtaining the original programming) to the original software/algorithm ...I could really be misusing the word algorithm here. :)

Thanks!

Yves,

1) An algorithm is the "process of doing something, or list of instructions". Software is the tool that will actually process the algorithm and give an output (if that makes any sense).
2) Yes, if you decided to go with us for your developing project, you could copyright our program. I would have no problem with giving you 100% intellectual rights to the design/layout/custom system that we would make especially for you.
3) If you would feel more comfortable, myself and my developer would sign an NDA and our lips would be sealed. (Not that we would need to steal ideas, we have more than we can handle :))
4) When we develop the software, we will sign a notarized contract stating that all of our work is 100% original and all rights will be transferred to your party. Then after that the software will be yours, and you can apply for a copyright.

I hope that answers your questions, and I really hope to work with you closely in the near future.

Your friend,
Tom C.
 

JScott

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2) Yes, if you decided to go with us for your developing project, you could copyright our program. I would have no problem with giving you 100% intellectual rights to the design/layout/custom system that we would make especially for you.
I should be a little bit clearer about what a software copyright is...

A copyright protects the bits of code (the 1's and 0's) that you create, not the ideas within the code (that's what patents are for). A copyright keeps people from physically cutting and pasting your code (or the 1's and 0's) to create a new copy.

When someone pirates (copies) software, they are infringing upon copyright, and the main goal of a copyright on software is to stop piracy. Since I don't imagine your main concern is piracy, you really don't need to focus so much on copyright. You may, however, want to talk to a patent lawyer (who specializes in software) about any patentable ideas you have.

And you can do that now...you don't have to wait until the software is completed.

4) When we develop the software, we will sign a notarized contract stating that all of our work is 100% original and all rights will be transferred to your party. Then after that the software will be yours, and you can apply for a copyright.
You don't need to actually apply for a copyright. Much like a book or any other work of art, copyright is automatically assigned to the owner.

That said, if you want to apply for an explicit copyright, you can through the US Patent Office (I believe).
 
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aptohosting

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I should be a little bit clearer about what a software copyright is...

A copyright protects the bits of code (the 1's and 0's) that you create, not the ideas within the code (that's what patents are for). A copyright keeps people from physically cutting and pasting your code (or the 1's and 0's) to create a new copy.

When some pirates (copies) software, they are infringing upon copyright, and the main goal of a copyright on software is to stop piracy. Since I don't imagine your main concern is piracy, you really don't need to focus so much on copyright. You may, however, want to talk to a patent lawyer (who specializes in software) about any patentable ideas you have.

And you can do that now...you don't have to wait until the software is completed.

You don't need to actually apply for a copyright. Much like a book or any other work of art, copyright is automatically assigned to the owner.

That said, if you want to apply for an explicit copyright, you can through the US Patent Office (I believe).
Thanks for clarifying that!.

Tom C.
www.aptohosting.com
 

MJ DeMarco

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My disclaimer is that I know very little about e-commerce, but I am beginning to realize that I need to learn if I want to get into the fastlane.

My questions (keep in mind the disclaimer!):

1. What is the difference between an algorithm and software?
2. Can both be copyrighted?
3. If I am looking to get a site developed, should I have my webguy sign a NDA and then tell him my ideas?
4.How do I go about obtaining rights (and obtaining the original programming) to the original software/algorithm ...I could really be misusing the word algorithm here. :)

Thanks!
Once a site goes live, anyone can reverse engineer it, and "copy" it in their own vision. By copy, I mean same concept, different name, graphics, and words. You really have little protection insofar as protecting the idea and/or revenue model.

Business models and ideas are mimicked everyday. A decade ago, Goto.com (Overture > Yahoo) came up with a unique, visionary advertising idea to charge a fee per click. Fast forward today, and most web advertising methodology follows this revenue model. It was copied over and over again despite the patent on the technology (which incidentally cost Google in subsequent years).

Internally, it would be wise to get your developers to sign an NDA as well as an exclusive right to their work, so they don't do your job, and then go do the same job for a competitor, or sell-off. Their work, since you hired them, becomes your property. You don't want them reselling it elsewhere.
 

aptohosting

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Read Millionaire Fastlane
Aug 16, 2007
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Once a site goes live, anyone can reverse engineer it, and "copy" it in their own vision. By copy, I mean same concept, different name, graphics, and words. You really have little protection insofar as protecting the idea and/or revenue model.

Business models and ideas are mimicked everyday. A decade ago, Goto.com (Overture > Yahoo) came up with a unique, visionary advertising idea to charge a fee per click. Fast forward today, and most web advertising methodology follows this revenue model. It was copied over and over again despite the patent on the technology (which incidentally cost Google in subsequent years).

Internally, it would be wise to get your developers to sign an NDA as well as an exclusive right to their work, so they don't do your job, and then go do the same job for a competitor, or sell-off. Their work, since you hired them, becomes your property. You don't want them reselling it elsewhere.

Well said.
 

JScott

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A decade ago, Goto.com (Overture > Yahoo) came up with a unique, visionary advertising idea to charge a fee per click. Fast forward today, and most web advertising methodology follows this revenue model. It was copied over and over again despite the patent on the technology (which incidentally cost Google in subsequent years).
Yes, Google paid dearly (to the tune of about 3 million shares of stock now worth over $2B) when they infringed Overture's pay-per-click patent.

As did a number of other companies as well...
 

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