Re: intellectual property (Re: Totalitarian Assumptions in I, Robot)

From: David Picon Alvarez (
Date: Mon Mar 07 2005 - 00:46:32 MST

> My understanding is exactly the opposite.
> Information is declared proprietary only when it
> is NOT legally intellectual property. To claim
> copyright on computer code, you have to send in
> a copy to the copyright office, which can be
> examined. Proprietary information is information
> that is kept secret, not information that is subject
> to intellectual property laws. At least, that
> is how we used it in my company.

You're wrong. Since a while ago when the USA became a signatory of the Berne
convention, copyright is implicit in the fixing of an idea in a concrete
physical form (ie, writing a book or a program). So copyright is
automatically conferred on the author by statute, even if s/he does not
register it. Registration is an optional step, which does help in certain
legal procedures and ensures statutory damages can be recovered, but this
e-mail is under my copyright by virtue of being written by me, an author, in
a Berne signatory nation.

> It is true that there is an exemption for computer
> code, saying that only the first and last 10 pages
> (or something like that) need be submitted to the
> copyright office. But this makes proving
> infringement harder.

See above. Software is, to my knowledge, the only artifact that can be
covered at the same time by copyright, patents and trade secrets.

> As a rule: The existence of intellectual property
> laws encourages the revelation of details such as
> how voting machine works. The nonexistence of IP
> mandates secrecy. So Thom's long article on
> voting machines is a clear case in favor of IP law.

If and only if IP law worked as you say it does.


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