11 Bull. Copyright Soc'y U.S.A. 362 (1963-1964)
Copyright Registration and Computer Programs

handle is hein.journals/jocoso11 and id is 402 raw text is: PART I.
ARTICLES
271. COPYRIGHT REGISTRATION AND COMPUTER
PROGRAMS*
By GEORGE D. CARY
Deputy Register of Copyrights
On May 19, 1964, the Copyright Office issued a public announce-
ment stating that it had adopted a policy of considering the registra-
tion of claims to copyright in computer programs under certain condi-
tions. It seems inevitable that an announcement of such a nature may
create the impression-to some at least-that the event is a precedent-
shattering one. In the sense that the particular type of work involved
has come into being only within the past 15 years or so, and was not
known at the time of enactment of the 1909 Copyright Law, the policy
was a new development which underscored the fast pace of the scientific
and technological revolution. But it was not precedent-shattering
in the sense that the decision marked a departure from the concepts
embodied in the 1909 law; on the contrary, the decision is grounded
upon the principles laid down by the courts for many years.
Lest any misunderstanding arise, it should be emphasized at the
outset that the newly announced policy will not result in protection
to the programmer with respect to the idea or system utilized in pre-
paring the program. Copyright in the program merely protects him
against unauthorized copying of that particular program. If any other
programmer sets out to create a program to achieve the same purpose
and does so without access to or copying of the copyrighted program,
there would be no copyright violation even if the second programmer
ultimately produced a program which was identical to the first. This
illustrates the concept of originality on which the copyright law is based,
which is of course different from and unrelated to the novelty concept
of the patent law. Thus copyright protection of computer programs
should not, as some might fear, tend to adversely affect the growth and
expansion of the computer industry.
* Based upon a discussion of this problem at the Corporate Patent Seminar,
Buck Hill Falls, Pennsylvania, June 15, 1964.

362

Buleti. Cpyright Society of the U.S.A.

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