Software and copyright

Computer programs (software) are protected under copyright law just like books. No one is allowed to copy software without permission from the copyright holder. Such permission is called a license. Licenses can be very simple ("copy as much as you want") but usually are long and complex. In particular open source licenses provide interesting licensing questions.

As copyright law was not designed for software, it is sometimes difficult to resolve copyright issues when dealing with software. A particularly complex question is when a derivative work is created. This question is relatively easy when dealing with books: a translation, abridgement or movie based on a book is a derivative work. Software can be used, adapted and built upon in many ways, and it is unclear when that creates a derivative work.

Software copyright in general

Software licenses

Open source software

Other forms of software protection