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This may be more of a legal question:

Some guy claims to copyright his source code but he has several publicly exposed source code examples on his website but just puts a copyright notice at the bottom of the site. Is it automatically assumed he can claim copyright on the provided example code he has throughout his 'open source' software directory?

According to the US copyright office, he would need to apply for a copyright on each software sample or software program with publicly exposed source code on his site. Am I right on this? Also, his software samples on the site have no declaration of any licensing at the top of each sample. Can he still enforce licensing or copyright protection without the declaration?

He claims people can only read it but NOT copy it for their own use or distribution. I thought this defeats the purpose of open source although his site is declared an open source directory.

Can I assume his source code is for the taking since he has no licensing declarations anywhere in the code?

I thought you can only copyright screens and workflow. Can you legally protect algorithm or programming logic?

Thanks for providing this great resource.

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migrated from stackoverflow.com Apr 10 '11 at 8:49

This question came from our site for professional and enthusiast programmers.

There is nothing wrong with letting people see how a given piece of code is written. Is immensely helpful when investigating issues and figuring out workarounds. –  user1249 Apr 10 '11 at 9:48

2 Answers 2

  1. Source code is copyrightable.
  2. In the US, creative works are automatically copyrighted. The author need not officially register a copyright to hold it and enforce it.
  3. All rights are reserved by default. Publishing on a website does not put a work into the public domain.
  4. Algorithms have been successfully patented in the US (e.g. RSA encryption, GIF compression, etc).
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2. True in all Berne convention countries (ie pretty much anywhere with a legal system) –  Martin Beckett Jul 17 '12 at 2:54
I believe registration is needed to file an infringement suit, though (you just have to register before you file the suit; there are advantages in terms of damages for registering before the infringement, but you don't have to do that). –  cpast Dec 11 '14 at 20:32

Unless it has a license that specifies under what terms its licensed (Open Source license), it's under copyright even without notice or registration.

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