Intellectual property?

Discussion in 'iOS Programming' started by v2club, Sep 20, 2011.

  1. v2club macrumors regular

    Apr 13, 2011
    I want to make an app that provides easier way of accessing information about specific software. In order to use that software man has to use many codes and commands, by many I mean 120 pages of codes and comands. So I want to make an app that will make it easier to find a particular code in these 120 pades, but I'm not quite sure if I'm gonna have problems with the company that developes that software (after all it's their product and their codes). The company has posted these 120 pages online and anybody can see it and access it any time he wants, I just want to make it easier to find a particular code. So what do you think about that?
  2. Hansr macrumors 6502a

    Apr 1, 2007
  3. v2club thread starter macrumors regular

    Apr 13, 2011
    That doesn't quite answer to my question, geting their permission would take time and there is no guarantee that I'll get it. It is not only for this case, it's general, if the information is out there online and anyone can accsess it freely any time (I'm talking about all kinds of information and all kinds of software). Can I make that app which will provide exactly the same info as online or I cannot?
  4. Hansr macrumors 6502a

    Apr 1, 2007
    The laws depend on the country their are from and where you are from but generally no you can't. It's their copyrighted material and you have no claim to using it.
  5. jiminaus macrumors 65816


    Dec 16, 2010
    Broadcasting it doesn't relinquish one's ownership under copyright. Think of news websites. You can't just steal their content and re-present it in your own app without permission.
  6. Trudy macrumors regular

    Sep 30, 2004
    I am not a lawyer, but...

    In the US, information can't be copyrighted. The landmark Supreme Court case for this was Feist v. Rural over the information in a phone book. Looks to me like this is purely a list of codes and commands, something that is not subject to copyright because it contains no creative expression.

    However, that's just the law and precedent. Nothing prevents a company from burying you under an expensive lawsuit until you capitulate regardless of how in the right you are.
  7. Hansr macrumors 6502a

    Apr 1, 2007
    Something published by a government entity does not fall under the same perceived laws as a private company that publishes a set of work that is their copyright.

    IANAL, but adhering to the information non-copyright-ability in that sense he could publish the app given he wrote all the text, descriptions, usecases himself from scratch. But the published works of the company are very much their copyright.
  8. Trudy macrumors regular

    Sep 30, 2004
    These days I believe they get around that by contracting a private company to write it instead of government workers writing it. Then the company assigns the copyright to the government.

    See Feist v. Rural above. Information (codes and commands) alone cannot be copyrighted. There are only a small number of pages in an entire phonebook that can be copyrighted. But you make a good point here. If he were to ensure the stripping of the original author's commentary, description use cases and even any special arrangement of the codes into unique logical categories, substituting his own, he should be okay.

    The major point is to start his work with ONLY the pure codes and commands from the original work, no creative expression from the original author at all, no editing the original author's descriptions.
  9. dejo Moderator


    Staff Member

    Sep 2, 2004
    The Centennial State
    It seems to me that it might behoove the OP to consult one in this case then.
  10. Trudy macrumors regular

    Sep 30, 2004
    Always a good idea, if you have the money. But then it's not going to help you if you get sued anyway. As I noted before, being on the right side of the law is no defense when the opposition can outspend you in court.

    Copyright is one of the worst areas of law to ask "what if" because you'll never know until the court hands down the judgment, if your bank account can carry you that far.
  11. Trudy macrumors regular

    Sep 30, 2004
    By the way, may I ask that you quit using the term "intellectual property"?

    It's not property, it's a limited, exclusive right that can be bought and sold the same as a property. Theft is an incorrect word to use with copyrighted works, unless you're talking about walking out of Best Buy with a DVD under your jacket or falsely registering yourself as the copyright holder at the US Copyright Office. All you can do, and what you are talking about, is infringe on the copyright holder's limited copying and performance rights.

    Rights infringement is not theft. Don't believe the propaganda.

    The term also creates confusion. "IP" covers the following: copyright, patent, trademark and trade secrets.

    The first two work off of one legal justification, while the other two work off of their own justifications. All four work off of widely differing laws and precedent. Specifically:

    Copyright: Constitutionally authorized and restricted, incentive to an author allowed only for the promotion of the arts. Protects creative expressions. Was supposed to be for a limited term, now corporate-purchased politicians have made it effectively unlimited. Concepts such as fair use apply.

    Patent: Same constitutional authorization, but for inventors, and still for a limited term. Protects specific implementations of ideas. Concepts such as fair use do not apply.

    Trademark/servicemark: Created to prevent consumer confusion and misuse of consumer trust in one company or product. Unlimited term as long as it is continually used in commerce. The same mark can be used by multiple companies for different products or services and not infringe on each other. Concepts related to fair use, usually in a First Amendment sense, apply.

    Trade secrets: There are various state and federal laws punishing the misappropriation or release of trade secrets. Unlimited term, but depending on the circumstances, anybody's free to use it once it gets out or is reverse-engineered.

    Over and over and over I see people confusing these concepts. It is much better to say copyright, patent, trademark or trade secret.

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