[Discuss] Request for Comments: Digital DIY: Legal Challenges & Solutions Practised Report

Matt Maier blueback09 at gmail.com
Sun Sep 25 07:30:59 UTC 2016

On Sat, Sep 24, 2016 at 5:45 PM, Cláudio Sampaio <patola at gmail.com> wrote:

> On Fri, Sep 23, 2016 at 8:19 AM, Matt Maier <blueback09 at gmail.com> wrote:
>> Thanks Wouter,
>> Are you really sure that the decorative aspects of OSHW designs are
>> enough to extend copyright protection to the whole object?
>> I'm not at all confident that's possible (or desirable).
>> Here's an example:
>> http://www.bitlaw.com/copyright/unprotected.html
>> "*a painting on the side of a truck is protectable under copyright law
>> even though the truck is a useful article. The painting is clearly
>> separable from the utilitarian aspects of the truck. The overall shape of
>> the truck, on the other hand, would not be copyrightable since the shape is
>> an essential part of the truck's utility...One of the primary purposes for
>> prohibiting copyright protection in useful articles is to prevent the
>> granting of patent-like protection through the copyright laws*"
> ​Someone please explain to me:
> With all these restrictions about copyright being applied to artistic but
> not utilitarian aspects of the creation, how is it that it fully applies to
> computer software, which is often a fully functional creation?
> I have read the article on wikipedia but could not really understand it:
> https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Software_copyright​

Copyright isn't just based an artistic works, but on the more general idea
that a pattern required creativity. So a pile of rocks you found on the
ground is the wrong idea, but a rock garden you carefully arranged is the
right idea. It's the arrangement, fixed in a medium, that gets protection.

Software is a file made out of utilitarian parts, but arranged in a
creative way. All of the value is in the creative pattern of common
elements. If the pattern is wrong, the computer doesn't function. If the
pattern is right, the computer can function beautifully. Most people can't
arrange the symbols correctly; doing so requires an injection of
creativity, which is what copyright protects.

> --
> Cláudio "Patola" Sampaio
> MakerLinux Labs - Campinas, SP
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