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Copyrights and Patents for Computer Programs

1. What is the difference between a copyright and a patent on a computer program?
2. What do we mean by "intellectual property"? What are the differences between intellectual property and real property? Should someone be able to own intellectual property? Why or why not?
3. The Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) asserts that downloading copyrighted music on the Internet without paying for it is stealing, but lots of people are doing it. Is this ethical? Why or why not? If this is not ethical, why are so many people doing it?
4. In reference to a company sharing information that it has collected about a customer, what is meant by "opt-in"? By "opt-out"? In your opinion, which of these is preferable?
5. What is meant by the term identity theft? What can happen to a person who is the victim of identity theft?
All questions should be minimum of 100 words each. All sources should be cited with references.

Solution Preview

1. What is the difference between a copyright and a patent on a computer program?

With regards to software, copyright is distinct from patent. It is then suggested to apply for both copyright and patent.
A copyright gives you the right to stop someone else from copying (or using) software that you own while a patent protects an idea. If someone else uses your patented idea, they are infringing, and you can get a court to make them stop, even if they just happened to come up with the same idea on their own (Taylor, 2013).

Derenyi and Elliott (n.d.) concisely differentiated copyright from patent:
"Copyright prevents the unauthorized copying of the expression of a work (such as copying the source code), while patents protect the functionality of elements in a work. The scope of patent protection, therefore, is much broader than the protection afforded by copyright, which does not protect a work from independent creation of a similar work or identical work. What patent protection lacks in longevity, it makes up for in scope of protection".

2. What do we mean by "intellectual property"? What are the differences between intellectual property and real property? Should someone be able to own intellectual property? Why or why not?

Intellectual property (IP) refers to creations of the mind: inventions, literary and artistic works, and symbols, names, images, and designs used in commerce (WIPO, n.d.).

According to WIPO (n.d.) intellectual property is divided into two categories: Industrial property, which includes inventions (patents), trademarks, industrial designs, and geographic indications of source; and Copyright, which includes literary and artistic works such as novels, poems and plays, films, musical works, artistic works such as drawings, ...

Solution Summary

This is a discussion on patents, copyrights and intellectual property. It talks about the ethics of illegally copying licensed intellectual properties in the record and software industries.

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