Registering a copyright in a Computer Software program is often a vital part of an individual or company’s intellectual property strategy. The US Copyright Office has some special regulations regarding registering a computer software program. One of the keys in registering a Copyright in your software is the deposit requirement. The author, owner, or programmer must submit the source code in a CD Rom or a print form (PDF files are required).
If there is any trade secret material, then it must be blocked out before submitting the deposit to the US Copyright Office. If the program is less than 50 pages, then the entire source code must be provided in a visually perceptible format (i.e. a PDF file). If author does not have the source code for the software program, then there is a way to register the object code for the program under the US Copyright’s offices rule of doubt. The rules for software programs are slightly different from websites and screen displays, but the key is the deposit requirement.
The deposit requirement determines the scope of the copyright and once you get a registration, it is archived and accessible to others. This provides notice to others of the validity of your Copyright and the need to get a license from you. In addition to notice, the Copyright Registration provides the owner with a presumption of validity in the Copyright, allows the owner to sue under the US Copyright Act in Federal Courts, and allows the owner to seek statutory damages and attorney’s fees.
Registering a Copyright in your software program can provide a variety of benefits that individuals, consultants, programmers, film makers, photographers, small and mid size companies often overlook.