Developing software can be a lucrative endeavor when successful. The creation of new programs and apps can give a business something to market or maybe a service that it provides to clients. Regardless of whether a company has attempted to develop proprietary software or apps in-house or it provides such services for other companies, intellectual property rights are a cornerstone of the ability to profit off of software development. They can also create numerous hurdles for developers.
There are many challenges that could arise related to intellectual property matters, particularly copyright issues. Software developers and the companies that employ them will need to keep a close eye on the three concerns below to minimize the possibility of a copyright infringement claim.
The appearance and function of the user interface
The user interface (UI) developed for an app or program is what allows someone to quickly and efficiently use that software. Intuitive UIs can make software much more accessible and profitable, as consumers prefer programs that don’t require much training to use. However, businesses will need to be very careful about the UIs they create to ensure that they are truly unique and are not very close in appearance or function to UIs used by others, especially in the same niche. Other businesses could potentially bring a copyright infringement claim related to the appearance or functionality of the UI for a piece of software.
The use of existing images and video
In an increasingly online world, people have become more comfortable than ever before sharing works of art or videos created by someone else. There is often an assumption that sharing small bits of a video or crediting the artist who drew an illustration would be sufficient to avoid copyright infringement claims. The use of any published and, therefore, copyrighted images or videos typically require a written agreement with the creator or owner of the copyright. Otherwise, there could be enforcement efforts brought against the software developer later.
The music within the software
Copyright infringement in the music world is particularly challenging to litigate, as there is a finite combination of notes and tunes. Therefore, it is very important for companies to perform their due diligence when making use of music or hiring someone to compose music for software. Sometimes, even a unique composition that closely resembles an existing, copyrighted work can be enough to trigger enforcement actions.
Copyright claims could result in drastic, last-minute revisions to software or even in a company shutting down or choosing not to release a program. Identifying and addressing potential copyright issues while developing software can help professionals and businesses maximize the profit generated by such endeavors while minimizing the risk of expensive legal action.