About Software Copyrights:


About Software Copyrights:

Here is something my son wrote and researched.
What everybody does....and nobody knows......Just read it all....

What is a copyright?
       The definition given by Webster's New World Dictionary is some fifty words long and contains several words that pertain specifically to copyright law. The legal definition is even more bewildering. But in the simplest sense, copyright means exactly what the two words it is composed of mean, by themselves; "the right to copy".
       So what does "right" mean. Webster isn't quite so obtuse with this one. It is defined as "a privilege that belongs to a person by law or tradition". That is fairly straightforward. For example, you have the privilege to speak freely in this country and that privilege is protected by the Bill of Rights.
       How about "copy". Back again to Webster's, which says "a thing made just like another; a full reproduction; a duplicate". This is pretty straightforward also. In the case of printed matter, if you run something through the Xerox machine, you have made a copy of it. On your Mac, if you select an icon and then choose "Duplicate" from the File menu, or drag it to another disk drive, you have made a copy of that file. (In the case of Duplicate, it even tells you "Copy of")
       So if you put these two definitions of "copy" and "right" together you get: "the privilege to duplicate, which is protected by law.
Now the purpose of the copyright law is to protect that "privilege to duplicate". For example; if you have a great idea nobody else has thought of that will make you a millionaire by writing a book about it, nobody else can buy one of your books and a Xerox machine, make copies of your book, sell a half million dollars worth, and leave you with only a measly half million. Or if you are a musician and you write the next triple-platinum song, no one can go out and buy one of your tapes and a cassette tape recorder, and start selling copies of your song, without getting an okay from you (and hopefully a very lucrative contract). So in it's simplest and most fundamental sense, copyright law says that no one can make copies of your creations without your permission. In other words, you are entitled to the fruits of your labor.
Now what does this have to do with computers.
       As far as computer software is concerned there are only two types of software. Copyrighted and non-copyrighted. Non-copyrighted software is called "freeware" or "public domain" and you can make as many copies of it as you want without having to ask anybody. The copyright, in essence, belongs to the public.
       With copyrighted software however, the copyright belongs to a person or company, who is the only one who can legally copy, or grant permission to copy, the software. Copyrighted software is generally considered to be divided into two types.
       "Commercial" software is what you would buy in a computer store such as Egghead or Babbages or through mail-order houses such as MacConnection. Usually, with this type of software, you are not allowed to make any copies, except to make one copy for back-up purposes. (You always back up your data and programs, right?) If you install it on your hard drive, the original disk becomes your back-up copy.
       "Shareware" is software which the copyright holder gives blanket permission for anyone to make copies of, but only for the purpose of evaluation. This means you can make a copy of it at a friends house, take it home and use it to see if you like it and you only pay for it if you decide to continue using it! This type of software distribution is based on the "honor" system and the only thing preventing you from not paying for it at all is your own personal integrity.
       Now, there is an often misunderstood term used in connection with software copyrights, and that is the term "license" or "licensing agreement". When you buy a commercial software program, the license is usually at least a full page of legalese set in very small print. With shareware it is usually a full screen of text that displays the first thing when you launch the program. Almost no one ever reads these licenses but they should. The license states what you can and cannot do with that software.
       The thing that you may not know, but which is probably the most important point when discussing software copyrights is that when you go down to the computer store and plunk down $500 for the latest version of Super-Do-All Integrated Software, believe it or not but YOU DON'T OWN THE SOFTWARE! All you have done is purchased the right to use it. That may seem absurd at first but it's a fact. Actually, looking at it from the viewpoint of it being "just like a book", it's easy to see. When you buy a book , you own the paper, the binding, the glue and the ink but you don't own the story contained in the book. That belongs to the copyright holder. The same is true with the software program. You own the disks, the box and the wrapper, but you don't own the "story" contained in the program or the information in the manuals.

       So here's the bottom line: If, by copying a piece of software, you gain something, or the copyright holder loses something, either directly or indirectly, monetarily or any other way, then it's a virtual certainty that you've violated the copyright. (The only exception to this is in the case of making a copy for back-up purposes, which is covered in the license. You obviously gain by having a back-up of the software, but note that the license always says something like "you can make a copy for back-up purposes" not "you can make a back-up copy", meaning you cannot use your back-up copy for anything except maintaining the security of your investment in the software.)
Now let's look at some examples of this:
       1) What if you have a computer at home and a computer at the office and you want to run a program on both machines? Unless the license specifically provides for this, you cannot legally install it on both machines because that would be making an unlicensed copy for something other than back-up purposes. Unfortunately, this scenario is probably the most widespread violation of copyright law in the entire computer industry. Almost as unfortunate is the fact that the software companies do not usually provide for this in their licensing agreements, although you may be able to negotiate some sort of agreement with the publisher to cover this. But in lieu of that, to remain legal, you must either buy another copy of the program or install it and erase it each time you want to run it on a different computer. Some people try to rationalize this by saying that the copy at home is a "back-up". But this still violates the "back-up purposes" part of the license.
       2) Supposing two or more people "go in together" on a software package by splitting the cost. This is perfectly okay as long as the software is only run on one machine. But if each person gets a copy to use on his own computer the truth of the matter is that the person who actually purchases the software gets a fully licensed program very cheaply and is selling stolen property to all the others.
       3) How about if you have version 1.0 of a program and buy an upgrade to version 2.0. What can you do with version 1.0? Well you could erase it and reuse the disks, you could put it in a safe place in case you ever need it later, (highly recommended), but you can't sell it or even give it away. If, instead you think of it as a separate program, you think of it as the same program with some additions, which actually it is. If you sold version 1.0 and kept version 2.0, you would in essence be selling or giving away a copy of part of version 2.0. And licenses always have some phrase like "in whole or in part" included somewhere in them.



       Finally, a word about the ethics of software copying from the viewpoint of one who makes his living in the Computer & Software industry.

       A single quality software package takes months to create and thousands of man-hours. This is of the same order and magnitude as building an average house, in terms of time and labor . Yet I have known people who would copy that software and give it away, but demand that the fifty-cent disk that it was copied onto be returned! I also have heard many people complain about the high price of software. I agree that software prices are, in general, inordinately high. Part of the reason for that is the same as why prices in retail stores are higher than need be. Shrinkage! The people who actually pay for the items are paying not only for the items they take home, but for the items that others have taken home without paying. Those who pay for software are also paying for the software others are using without having paid for it. If someone copies software, they obviously think it is valuable in some way, otherwise why would they copy it? So in closing I would like to ask this question:

What would you call a person who takes something that doesn't belong to him without paying for it?

       The bottom line is simple, you can say anything you want, you can justify it some how, but it is Black & White, there are no Gray areas here, if you are using software you have not payed for you are a Thief!

If you are still thinking you can get away with it, you are probably right, no one mite ever know, but:
       He comes in an hour you do not know and He is the only one that matters!

Yes, I do believe in paying for Donating to the cause of Freeware / Shareware for a few reasons. I DO!
     1) Someone worked long and hard for something for you to use or is even making you money or making you more productive at what you do, that in it self makes you more money.
     2) The person that puts it out still believes in the good nature of people and its better to put it out there and let you deside if it is worth paying for.
     3) It is "not" a person or companies duty to make you cool software for free so you can profit from it, Rent still needs to be paid food still needs to be bought, and that don't happen spending to much time writing you cool software for free.
     4)I put it out there thinking someone would donate . Spent all that time and no one did, Well Ver. 2 will never be seen because Ver. 1 didn't pay for itself. You will never get an update or bug fix for that cool program!
Small business is worth supporting, its cool or you wouldn't be using it right!

Now with Online payments like Paypal.com it even makes it easy. You can download programs from any site.

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