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  • 10. FAQ - Computer Programs
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Case 1 "Copying for Private Use"

"You are copying a computer application to your own computer for private use. You justify the action to yourself in the following way: Under the Copyright Act, a published work may be copied for private use. May you copy the application under copyright law?"

No, you may not. The restrictive provision for private use under the Copyright Act does not apply to a computer application in a format that is legible on a computer, or the manufacture of a copy of an application, in a format that is legible on a computer, from a database in this format.

Case 2 "Selling a Computer Application"

"May you sell a computer application you have bought from the shop?"

This depends on the terms of the software license agreement. When you buy a computer application, what you are buying, more specifically, is a license agreement-defined user right to a copyright-protected computer application.

Case 3 "A Computer Program Designed for a Company"

"Your friend asks you to create a software application for their company that provides billing services. You receive a paper from your friend, describing the computer application and the descriptions of the functions required of the application.  However, you do not sign any order or commission agreement.  Once the application is ready, you start to think about copyright issues. Will the copyright now be born directly to your friend's company?"

No, it won't. A copyright is primarily born to a natural person, e.g. the programmer, who in practice writes the application code and from whose creative input the application has been created. The author of the set of instructions or requirements is in no way considered the author of the computer application. Unless agreed otherwise, the copyright remains with you. The case may however be interpreted so, that your friend's company receives a user right in accordance with the company's normal operation to the application in question, based on a so-called tacit agreement. For this reason, it is advisable to draft a carefully written agreement on the transfer of rights with programming orders.

Case 4 "Software Products Design with Open Source Applications"

"Does the use of open source applications in a software product company have any effect on the closed source software products, or their licensing conditions, which are sold to the company's customer?"

They don't have an effect. Open source applications may be used internally in a company, without it having any effect on the software products being sold to the customer. This is true, when the open source applications are not distributed (even as part of the applications offered to the customer).

Case 5 "Offering Open Source Licensed Components"

"What must a software product company take into consideration, when using an externally drafted open source-licensed component as part of the software offered to a customer?"

When offering applications to customers, one must strictly follow the open source licensing terms and proportion them to the business strategy of the company. Terms of the license vary depending on the type of license. If the open source licensed component includes, for example, the so-called copyleft provision, the entire product must be licensed using the same open source license as the individual component. Breach of the provision usually means copyright infringement because, without a valid license, the company may not copy and distribute the component as part of their own product

It is possible that an externally drafted component violates a third party's copyright, for example, if its source code was copied in violation of the Copyright Act. However, this is almost impossible to detect.  Different types of applications are available to detect illegal copying, but in practice it is impossible to be absolutely certain about this matter.