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Software Copyright

.. ample is my web page. I had a link from my page (the Wierd Wide Web) to Archaic Ruins, which is a site regarding information on emulators of old video game systems. When the operator of Archiac Ruins got sued by a video game company (I think it was Konami), I too got questioned, and had my page had ANY questionable material on it, I would have been sued. Thankf! ully, I was too lazy to work on the page, as I had planned to put up a page that had really old videogames.

Who said procrastination was bad? How can you prosecute someone for a crime that is undefined? Thats a question many people are asking. What is a copy of software? Is it a physical clone of the media it came on? Or is it the code duplicated to someplace else? If so, where else? Currently, software copying is generally considered a copy of the code someplace else.. but thats a problem. We all know that a backup of software is a copy, but did you know that even running the software creates a copy of it? Yes, it does. When you load a program, it goes into your computers memory, and is legally considered a copy.

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While the copy does not stay indefinately, it does stay long enough to perform a certain task, and can and has been looked upon as a form of software piracy, as stupid as that sounds. (Tysver Software Patents) BBS (Bulletin Board Systems, small online services run by normal people) Sysops (system operators) are legally considered responsible for all the files that are available on their system (Elkin-Koren). While at first this seems like an obvious thing, afterall, it is their computer, they should know whats on it. However, if you had ever run a BBS before, which I do, you’d know that its hard, if not impossible to know whats on your computer. Planet-X, my friend John Morse’s BBS, which I co-run, has 50 calls a day. Of those 50 calls, about 35 of them upload or download software. Neither one of us is constantly monitoring the system, nor is there a way to make the computer automatically check to see what happens.

Thus, about half of the public files on the BBS we don’t know about. Lets take a look at an example of BBSs and copyright, and how they oh-so-beautifully coincide. Sega Ltd., maker of the Sega Genesis and Sega Gamegear, recently sued the Maphia BBS for making Sega Genesis ROMs publically available in a download section. This section was a type of digital rental as it is commonly known in the BBS community. Commercial software publically available for download, on an on-your-honor system, you had to delete the files after a short period of time (24-48 hours).

Unfortunately for the Maphia BBS, they did not have a disclaimer, stating that the files must be deleted after a trial period, and thus, Sega was able to sue them for it, as without the disclaimer, there was no proof that they had used the digital rental system, and thus it was not fair use, as it could be used for monetary gain by the downloader (not having to buy the game). Of course, it could be used for that purpose WITH the disclaimer, but the disclaimer does just that, disc! laims the BBS operator of the responsibilities of that copy of software (Elkin-Koren). Another such case was the case between Playboy (I think we all know who that is), and the Frena BBS. The public file areas on the Frena BBS frequently contained image files, and more often than not, they were adult image files. Well, I don’t know exactly how it happened, but Playboy somehow found out that this BBS had some scanned photos from a Playboy magazine, and because they have the copyright to all their photos, they were able to sue the operator of the Frena BBS.

The operator had no idea that there were any Playboy images on his system (Elkin-Koren). Speaking of image files, they too can be a problem with software protection. Say you’ve got an image file that someone had copyrighted. You load it up in a photo-retouching program, and add a big old goat in the background and paint the sky red. Then you remove the artists file name.

Viola, the picture is now semi-legally copyrighted to you, as it has been significantly changed from its original, although I wouldn’t recommend going to court over it (Grant 12). All you have to do is change a very large portion of the image files coding. Technically, darkening or blurring the image, changing the file format, or interlacing the file changes the file entirely, and thus, its yours. Sounds too easy? It is. Copyrights and patents are designed to help the media it protects. But in the case of technology, its actually hindering it.

CD-ROMs contain a lot of information, and are the perfect media for music. A lesser known media, the Digital Video Disc, or DVD, is much more versitile, containing 26 times the storage compacity of a CD-ROM, and 11500 times more than a standard floppy disk, or about 17 gigabytes (the largest hard drives are 9 gigs). However, DVDs are not available to the public. Why? Because of the ease of copying them. We’ve all dubbed tapes, its easy to do. However, we often opt for higher quality originals, because there is always a bit of degradation in the copies (although its very small now).

With DVDs, a copy is exactly that, a copy. No degradation, no reason to buy an original. All the big companies are really scared by this technology, because it will take another five bucks out of their pockets. DVDs would be one of the greatest advancements in the ! short history of computers, but because of the shadier uses it could be used for, we’ll never see it. I like to compare it to the Internet, its very useful, but it can be used for illegal purposes. You be the judge (Ross 134-140).

Luckily, we may yet someday see DVDs, because several companies are developing copy protection schemes for them, to stop the casual home hacker/copier. Macrovision, for instance, is producing hardware for the DVD player that will make them incompatible with VCRs (the easiest dubbing-to platform, the equivilant of CD to audio tape). It will send output through the audio/video out ports that when played on a TV, will appear normal, but when played through a VCR, will have color stripes running sideways across the screen. This is due to the differences between the ways the two work (Ross 134-140). So as you can see, current methods of protecting software are a hinderance on the software industry. The problems outweigh the benefits, but with a new law, the industry would be able to keep the benefits and minimize any drawbacks.

Instead of having to nitpick over who wrote something that did something similar, it would be back to who wrote something more powerful than the other guy, and thats what makes the industry great, competition. Oh, and I’d like to add that I broke copyright law a total of 13 times in the making of this report, when I made a copy of each reference with the school copying machine (James 16), although it was fair use, so I’m not in any trouble (Ruth). Bibliography Bibliography -=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=- David Cosgrove The Hare and the Tortoise: Internet and Copyright. http://www.interaus.net/1995/11/hare.html (1995). Tad Crawford Internet Copyright Law FAQ. http://www.users.interport.net/~allworth/icl faq (1996). Anne Bilodeau House Bill Would Limit Hyperlinks. http:/.www.webweek.com/96May20/nes/netcopy.html (1996). Richard Raysman et al Computer Law: Internet Copyright Developments. http://www.brmlaw.com/doclib/complaw196.html (1996).

Del Guercio, Gino. Softwars. World Monitor Oct. 1991: 22-24. Reprinted in Technology 3.

Boca Raton, Florida: SIRS, Inc., 1996: Article 75. Daniel Grant. Computer Copycats Blur Rights. Christian Science Monitor Oct. 3 1991: 12. Reprinted in Technology 3. Boca Raton, Florida: SIRS, Inc., 1996: Article 75. Daniel A Tysver BitLaw: Internet Linking http://www.bitlaw.com/internet/linking.html (1996).

Daniel A Tysver BitLaw: Internet Software Patents http://www.bitlaw.com/internet/patent.html (1996). David Pressman Patent It Yourself http://www.nolo.com/pat/toc.html (1996). Niva Elkin-Koren Copyright Liability of BBS Operators http://yu1.yu.edu/csl/journals/aelj/articles/13-2/ elkin.html (1995). Gleick, James. I’ll Take the Money, Thanks.

New York Times 4 Aug. 1996. 16. Dukelow, Ruth. The Library Copyright Guide Chelsea, Michigan., 1992. Ross, Philip E.

Cops vs Robbers in Cyberspace. Forbes 9 Sept. 1996. 134-140. Legal Issues.

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