Intellectual Property - Copyright: Ownership of Protected IT Components

AutorProf. Dr. Isabel Hernando
Cargo del AutorIntellectual Property - Copyright: Ownership of Protected IT Components

Under copyright law, any copy, reproduction, publication, broadcasting, and public distribution of protected material is unlawful unless an authorization has been obtained or a license has been granted by the owner of the exploitation rights. These underlying principles of copyright are applicable both in the 'off-line' and 'on-line' world. As a basic definition, copyright is a legal term stipulating rights given to creators for their artistic, scientific and literary works.

Ownership of Protected IT Components.

The basic principle relating to copyright ownership is that the author as the creator of the work is the owner of copyright. Such author may be an individual, and/or a legal entity. The following situations with respect to ownership are common within the IT sector.

  1. IT Components Created by Employees.

    With respect to the creation of a work within the employment context, there is a move towards harmonization between various nations. In the U. S. , the employer is considered the author. In various countries of the European Union, unless there exists an express agreement to the contrary, however, the employee will be the author. The law presumes, however, that the employee by virtue of the employment contract has assigned the ownership and exploitation rights to the employer. This approach is similar to that taken with respect to audio-visual and cinematographic works, where national laws construe a presumption of assignment of certain exploitation rights to the producer upon the signing by the parties of a production contract.

    This situation is even more frequently encountered in cases involving computer programs. In many countries where an employee creates a computer program in the performance of his/her duties, or pursuant to the instructions of the employer, then in the absence of a contract to the contrary, the copyright in the program (source code, object code) shall belong exclusively to the employer.

  2. IT Components Created in Collaboration with Others

    When a number of authors participate in the creation of a work, such as a web page, multimedia work or a computer program, with the idea of producing a single product, the resulting work will be classified as a jointly developed work to which each author will enjoy rights to the extent agreed. In the absence of an express agreement outlining each authorøs...

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