Copyrights and Duties
Copyright law is by far the most pervasive form of protection for works by creators whose products focus on communication. Copyright applies to the broad range of textual, aural, and visual expressions used in books, articles, and multimedia products, and includes graphic, textual, and musical representations. All of these are a part of the range of materials that students, instructors, and nonacademic creators both produce and use in the everyday course of work.
The 1976 Copyright Act is the current controlling law for treating intellectual products under copyright and provides the basic tenets upon which the law is built, such as the concept of a limited monopoly and the distinction between ideas and expression. Legal arguments and other areas of law affect the interpretation of copyright provisions in application, and these areas include the following: merger and reverse engineering, substantial similarity, contract law, plagiarism, tangibility and fixation, originality, and infringement.
Some of the defenses against claims of copyright infringement, such as reverse engineering and the clean room defense (used when a creator develops a new intellectual product in isolation from the alleged infringed work), are most commonly applied in software cases, but the concepts and arguments that drive them are helpful for understanding general frameworks of argument in the copyright law field as a whole. In addition, with the greater reliance on digitized information, the issues and arguments in software copyright law may become even more applicable to treating literary work, since its character is changing and rapidly coming closer to that of software products than print products. Soft-