Software Legal Protection 1.0

Software legal protection refers to the various legal mechanisms and measures in place to safeguard software from unauthorized use, distribution, copying, modification, or theft. These protections are designed to enforce the rights of software developers, creators, and owners, ensuring that their intellectual property is safeguarded and that they have exclusive control over its use and commercialization.

Software Legal Protection 1.0

When it comes to developing technology, it is very important, as a first step, to understand what is the legal protection available to software creators (coders or developers).

In this series of articles we will address one by one, each type of legal protection afforded by International and European laws to software.


Software is a generic term used to designate a Computer Program that is made up of three key elements:

  • The Source Code is the original code of the computer program written in program languages (e.g. Java, C++, Erlang, Python, etc.), which can be read and understood by human beings (i.e. programmers, engineers, coders, software developers).
  • The Object Code is a version of the program that is directly usable by a computer, in binary form (a series of “zeros” and “ones”) that computer processors understand, but human beings cannot, unless it is decompiled (i.e. transformed into source code).
  • The Documentation of the computer program is the operating manual of the software, may contain descriptions, schemes, designs, but also history of versions, 

All three key elements, including therefore The Source and The Object Codes, under Article 4 of the WIPO Copyright Treaty, are protected from a legal standpoint as literary works within the meaning of Article 2 of the Berne Convention.  Such protection applies to computer programs, whatever may be the mode or form of their expression.

It is important to note that, in the preparatory work of a computer program, coders often use preparatory design materials, open source code, or other elements, which may or may not, of themselves, enjoy a separate legal protection.

Where the software generates images on screen, as a result of the operation of the program (e.g. video games), and, if such images correspond to the requirement of originality, they will enjoy copyright protection as audiovisual works, while fixed images may also frequently be protected as graphic or photographic works.

To benefit from copyright protection of your software according to International and European laws, there is no requirement to register the copyright, rather, the copyright to the software elements is born upon creation of the computer program itself.

However, if you are developing a software on demand, for a client, or you are hiring software engineers to write code for you, it is important to enter into a signed Software Development Services Agreement, or into a Software Engineering Services Agreement, as per your specific case, to secure the copyright rests with the right party, as per your agreement, and the code doesn’t end up in the wrong hands, is miss-used, reverse engineered or decompiled. Feel free to purchase a legal template for one of these agreement types on our platform.

Read on to find out more about how you can protect your software with Patent registration.

And if you have any questions, Book A FREE Legal Strategy Session with us and one of our senior attorneys will guide you through the process of protecting your software creations.




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