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Software Scan

The President's Column

Copyright law in general and software copyrights in particular are more complex than some people realized (including me until recently). I'm currently writing a book on software IP, and the chapter on copyrights wore me out with all the researching and fact checking and writing. One main point to remember about copyrights is that they protect expressions of ideas but not the ideas themselves (those are protected by trade secrets and patents). To understand a few more in-depth points, read the Scanning IP section of this newsletter.

In the Scanning Tools section I talk about one of the free utilities incorporated in CodeSuite called FileIsolate that allows you to copy or delete entire lists of files or types of files in an entire directory tree. I find it's one of those tools that sounds mundane, but I created it because I need it all the time. And did I mention that it's free?

Send me your comments and critiques. I'm always interested in hearing from you.


Bob Zeidman
President, SAFE Corporation

Scanning IP

Key Points About Software Copyrights

First, a copyright exists at the moment of creation. In other words, a work does not need to be published to have a copyright. The copyright does not need to be registered with the U.S. Copyright office. It is simply a right given to the person who created the work. The advantage of registering a copyright with the government is that you then have an official document proving your ownership, making it easier to win in court against someone who attempts to use your creation without your permission. Registration can be done any time after the work is created, but is required in order to initiate litigation. Winning a copyright infringement case in court, when the copyright is registered before the infringement took place or within 3 months of the publication of the work, can entitle you to get back your attorney fees as well as "statutory damages," which essentially constitute financial punishment that is not based on the amount of money lost by the author due to the infringement. This is done to encourage people to register their copyrights and to deter people from stealing them.

As the owner of a copyright, you have the right to reproduce the work, enhance the work, distribute the work, and perform it or display it in public.

With software, the copyright gives protection to the source code and the binary code generated from the source code. In order to register a copyright, it is normally necessary to file a copy of the intellectual property being protected with the US Copyright Office as proof. Since most software contains valuable trade secrets (which we discuss in a later section) that would lose their value if presented to the public, the copyright office allows software source code to be submitted with major sections "redacted" or left out. In fact, only the first 25 and last 25 printed pages of source code need to be submitted, though there are no guidelines as to what constitutes "first" and "last" in something consisting of many independent files and a complex interconnect of routines.

Note that a copyright notice is not required in the code, except for registering the copyright.

Advanced Tools to Detect Software Plagiarism and IP Theft

A sophisticated set of tools for analyzing software source code and object code including:

Check binary object code for plagiarism.

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Get Smart

SAFE offers training at our facility or yours. Contact us to make arrangements:

MCLE credit in software IP

CodeSuite certification

Your New Office

Remember that you can now have your own secure office at the SAFE facility for storing proprietary software, running CodeSuite, analyzing the results, and getting onsite support. We're located at

20863 Stevens Creek Blvd.
Suite 456
Cupertino, CA 95014
(408) 517-1194

Scanning Tools

Isolating Files With FileIsolate—And It's Free!

CodeSuite has a few useful utilities built in that can help you with certain tedious or time consuming tasks. Any they're absolutely free to use. For example, how many times have you been given a DVD full of all kinds of files. Maybe is a full computer disk including operating system, application files, graphics files, and other kinds of other files. You may need to examine all of the C++ source code files, but you need to copy the contents to a clean disk for analysis. Copying the entire disk would be time consuming and require a large hard drive. But you can't afford to miss any critical files, wherever they may be located. FileIsolate allows files and file types to be selectively copied or deleted from an entire directory tree. FileIsolate maintains the directory tree while copying, moving, or deleting only those files that are of interest.

FileIsolate is easy to use, incorporated into CodeSuite, and it's free (can we say that enough?).

This newsletter is not legal advice. Views expressed herein should be checked for accuracy and current applicability.
Copyright 2009 Software Analysis & Forensic Engineering Corporation