Programming the Same Program

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  • If somebody makes a computer program that produces all the same output to the user as something copyrighted, but uses completely different code in the background, would this violate the copyright of the original program?
  • Your question is a little too general to answer, but just a few thoughts:
    Many programs perform the same function and do not violate copyright--ie. word processing programs like Word, Works and WordPerfect; account programs and many others. In these cases, the same results are produced, but they do not infringe on one another's copyright. But even though you might not violate copyright on the code, I can see where there might be a violation on graphics, audio or some other part of the program--it really depends on what type of program it is. Simply creating a competing product is certainly not a violation.

    Other opinions?
  • Software is complex. You've brought up several issues, so if you could be a bit more clear that would be helpful.

    Assume you have a digital image generated by a software program. The software code and the image are both copyrighted expression. Say that someone creates software different from yours that results in the same image. The code itself is different, and so the code would not violate your copyright, but the image may violate copyright because it copies your initial image.
  • I've a question regarding VHS to CD copyright. At the library where I will be doing my practicum they are wanting to take the VHS recordings and copy them to CD ... to upgrade to current technology. It is my understanding that this would be a violation of fair use. Am I correct? Thanks for your help. :)
  • In order for a library to copy materials into different formats, certain conditions apply:
    1. The original format must be obsolete--this is not the case for VHS
    2. The library must make a reasonable effort to locate an unused replacement copy in the desired format at a reasonable price
    3. If the copy is transferred to a digital format, the digital copy cannot be made accessible to the public outside of the premises.

    There are a few other circumstances, address in "Complete Copyright' such as possible fair use or, in a university library, possible under a teaching exemption, but these are cases in which insitutional policy and personal judgement will be called upon to make a decision.
    Just to upgrade to a more accessible format for patrons is not fair use.

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