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  • 3.2 Cooperation and Copyright
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Various types of cooperation are very common in the software business. Nowadays almost all computer programs are written by several programmers or the programming involves some type of group work. [1]

Joint Work

According to the Copyright Act, if the work is created by two or more individuals together and their contributions do not create separate works, they will hold copyright to the work jointly (joint work) [2]. Thus, if the contributions of the programmers writing the program are not separable, they will jointly hold copyright to the computer program. An example of a joint work is the open source operating system Linux that has been created over time by numerous programmers [3].

Exploiting a joint work requires permission from all of its authors [4]. Thus, licensing a joint work computer program requires obtaining permission from each author (programmer). Therefore, it makes sense to draft a written contract on how the rights are exploited before entering into cooperation in order to prevent a situation where one of the authors can prevent others from reasonably exploiting the jointly created computer program.

Collective Work

A work is called a collective work if it is created through the input of more than one author and the authors' contributions form independent works.  For example, very often games will combine code, graphic works and musical works. In this case, each author (programmer, graphic artist, composer) control their part independently.

Notes and References

[1] Välimäki (2009): Oikeudet tietokoneohjelmistoihin, Talentum, Helsinki

[2] Harenko – Niiranen – Tarkela (2006): Tekijänoikeus, kommentaari ja käsikirja, WSOYpro, Helsinki. p. 13

[3] Välimäki (2009): Oikeudet tietokoneohjelmistoihin, Talentum, Helsinki

[4] Harenko – Niiranen – Tarkela (2006): Tekijänoikeus, kommentaari ja käsikirja, WSOYpro, Helsinki.