Copyrighting a program

Discussion in 'iOS Programming' started by AceCobra1, Jul 12, 2013.

  1. AceCobra1 macrumors newbie

    Jul 12, 2013
    Hi all, I am thinking of learning how to make some programs for the ipad/ iphone but my main concern would be how easy it is for other people to copy the program which I would have created? Is there anything I could do to copyright or to protect the program or once I write it, and if it is popular that to expect it to be copied ?
  2. dantastic macrumors 6502a


    Jan 21, 2011
    If you come up with something unique and usable you can expect to be copied. I don't think there is much you can do about it. They can't use your assets or names straight off but there's nothing stopping you from making a game called Annoyed Chickens that are all about flicking chickens onto blue foxes....

    It is probably a waste of time chasing people doing something *similar*. Spend the time making your app better than the clones.

    I had a clone happen to one of my apps a while back. It was down right identical. Actually boosted my sales for a while as they spent a lot of money on advertising and because the 2 apps were so similar mine was getting some of the new installs too :)
  3. truehybridx macrumors member

    Dec 6, 2010
    You will end up getting a variety of responses, so here's mine :)
    Do not worry about it, especially if you don't even know how to make the programs in the first place worry about learning and making.

    Is it easy to copy? Extremely, being objective c mostly there is a lot of information packed inside the binaries that can be used in the reversing process. Apple provides encryption thats suppose to stop people from being able to take the app out of their itunes library and open it in a disassembler, but this encryption is useless for the most part if the copier bought your app.

    Copyright? Sure, you could spend the money to get a legal piece of paper and can put "Copyright 2013" somewhere on your app, but not many people will care unless you start hammering the first people who start copying. (Same goes for piracy)

    Expect it to be copied? Sure, expect that if it is popular some little undercutter will try to copy it and sneak it on the store. If you're app is popular enough and people notice the knock off there will be blog posts about it, then it would be up to you to lodge a complaint with Apple and get the app pulled (and possibly remove the developer too)

    Good luck :D
  4. xArtx macrumors 6502a

    Mar 30, 2012
    In most territories Copyright is in immediate effect without any formalities or
    cost whatsoever.

    Apple state in their app review guidelines that an app may not make it
    if it's a blatant rip off of another app.
    Within the Apple Universe, that would be an avenue I'd pursue if I found
    I'd put a lot of effort into something that was ripped off that way.

    In most cases, your app wouldn't need to be disassembled to be copied.
    It would be much simpler (unless the program is very complex), to just
    rewrite the app with the stolen idea.
  5. 1458279 Suspended


    May 1, 2010
    I think (not sure) but isn't there a clear difference between a "work alike" and copyright infringement?

    As I understand this, a person can make a work alike program. Look at all the games and you see some are very much the same.

    How could you make a poker game without it having things in common with other poker games?

    If someone were to copyright a poker game, does that mean that others can't make a poker game? I don't think so. This would be different from a software patent for something used in your app.

    I really don't think copyright is the tool to protect someone from making an app that does about the same as yours.
  6. xArtx macrumors 6502a

    Mar 30, 2012
    Unless you have a trademark, or a patent (both have their own hoops),
    what other protection is there?
  7. moonman239 macrumors 68000

    Mar 27, 2009
    You can patent the app idea. The app is probably copyrighted, too, from the moment you actually start creating it. If so, you can register the copyright with the Library of Congress, which I recommend doing to help you win any copyright-related lawsuits regarding your app that arise.
  8. chown33 macrumors 604

    Aug 9, 2009
    Sailing beyond the sunset
    No you can't. Ideas, per se, are not patentable.

    What may be patentable is the expression of an idea, within certain boundaries or parameters. It's the placement of those boundaries or parameters that is the cause of much patent grief.

    For competent patent advice, consult a patent attorney, or at least do some basic research on what is and isn't patentable.
  9. MattInOz macrumors 68030


    Jan 19, 2006
    Copyright will offer little protection unless you have a good evidence trail of your development of the idea. A design diary regularly dated with sketches and the like, is always the advice we were given in design school. Still something like using a private GIT repository* hosted by someone else will also give a good timestamped log of when an idea come in to existence for your project and shows it's development.

    *well along with the advantage of off-site backup change logging, team co-ordination and branching such a system gives you.

    Edit: should have said also just being able go back and see your own skill development.
  10. 1458279 Suspended


    May 1, 2010
    I was actually involved in a computer program copyright case years ago.

    Understand I am NOT an attorney, also, it's been a while...

    I don't think you can copyright an app.

    An app is a computer program and the computer program copyright is on the source code. Or at least you copyright the computer program by submitting the source code.

    When in court, the other party was forced to provide the "source code" for their computer program.

    At least one question was before the court. Who's source code was this and who wrote it.

    They claimed the source code that I wrote was not used and someone else's code was used.

    The source code actually had my name in it. I had hidden my name within the source code in such a way that a search wouldn't find it.

    Long story short

    It came down to who owned the computer program (not the idea, but the program) and if I owned it in whole or part, did they make any money from it.

    I proved that I wrote the program and the source code was mine, his claim that it wan't used at all was proven false.

    He didn't make any money from it, so there was no money damages awarded.

    These cases usually come down to money damages, this might have changed. Proving the case was a real chore, lawyers are expensive, and people lie.

    The people lie part is hard to get over, even when he was caught in a lie, it becomes an issue of how were you actually damaged by this lie.

    If you think someone automatically gets into trouble for lying in court, no.

    In addition, my understanding is that you automatically have a copyright when you write a program. The sending in source code and forms, just registers the copyright you already have.

    Understand that things might have changed and this was a while back.

    IMO, I would NOT consider a copyright registration until you have a hit, and even then I would ask a pro what advantage it would give you. My guess is that answer will be "it won't hurt, and can help protect you" without details as to how it would help you.

    The place it helps you is in court, that after you have served someone. I tried to serve a drunk driver with info from the police report. Everyone involved said this person had left the US and they never expect to have contact with this person ever again. You can't get info from some sources like ins companies or police.

    The bottom line in my view is that nobody cares except you and people that can charge you big $$ to "help you".

    If you get a big hit, hire someone that can give you specific answers.

    Otherwise, having Apple do a take down, might be your best choice. Being able to prove you were 1st and they weren't might be worth much more.

    I'd be interested to see what has happened to Zynga. They are being sued by EA over some game. THIS should give many answers. I'd see exactly what EA does to protect their works.
  11. phr0ze macrumors 6502a

    Jun 14, 2012
    Columbia, MD
    Copyright can cover the artwork and source code.
    Copyright is instant the work is created.
    You need to register the work if you want to go after damages (Money).
    If you don't register the work, the court will usually just make them stop using it.

    Notice that copyright has nothing to do with concept of the game, the idea, etc.

    Trademark is a mark used in commerce. It has very peculiar rules and is best applied to a logo. It will not protect the concept or idea.

    Patent is for an invention. If you invent a new way playing games, you can patent that. ie. the game is controlled completely through eye winks.

    In all you will have a tough time keeping your game idea from being copied and/or improved.
  12. ArtOfWarfare macrumors G3


    Nov 26, 2007
    Also note that phr0ze may apply for a patent within the next year with this idea now that he has mentioned it, and if you applied for it after him but after he posted this, then he gets the patent, not you.

    Or at least I think that's how US patent law works right now, I recall hearing news about that sometime last year... IANAL.
  13. phr0ze macrumors 6502a

    Jun 14, 2012
    Columbia, MD
    Have at it, just send me 3% of profits. :cool:

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