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Does copyright cover a computer program?

While not always intuitive – the answer is ‘it can’.

Intellectual property infringement litigation concerning a computer program often resembles a patent law case. However, computer programs are not patentable inventions. Thus, in intellectual property law, computer programs fall into the category of literary works under copyright law.

Copyright protection for a computer program is complex because it often involves an author of the literary work and a computer programmer. Moreover, they’re often composed of various links, each representing a separate literary work. Certain exemptions also exist when computer programs are copied. For example, the owner or licensee of a computer program may make a back-up copy of the program, as long as it remains for their own personal use.

If you are the creator of a computer program, we would recommend seeking the appropriate intellectual property protections, to ensure third parties cannot unlawfully infringe upon your work. Likewise, in the event that you suspect infringement of your work, a copyright lawyer can assist with ‘next steps’, whether that be by negotiations, alternative dispute resolution, or litigation.

Copyright protection of a computer program is a tricky area of the law, and the assistance of a copyright lawyer is highly recommended. Contact our experienced copyright lawyers located in Ottawa and Toronto to help you navigate this complex area of copyright law.