The fundamental principles of copyright law are the same for all media, including electronic media. Nevertheless, the application of these fundamentals can differ with respect to electronic media. For example, the issue of whether a software program is original as long as it does not duplicate another programs’ source code or object code is a question of application rather than fundamental legal principles. Certain laws have been enacted to clarify how established fundamentals should be applied to new media forms.
The Early Years
Originally, it was an open question of law whether computer programs should be protected by copyright law, patent law, or trade secret law. For this reason, software developers preferred to keep their creations as trade secrets Eventually, federal courts decided that copyright law is applicable to the protection of computer programs