Can You Copyright Computer Software?

Denise Wilkinson

In today’s digital age, computer software has become an essential part of our daily lives. From video games to productivity software, it’s hard to imagine a world without it.

But what about the legal aspects of software? Can you copyright computer software? The short answer is yes, and in this article, we’ll dive deeper into the topic.

What is Copyright?

Copyright is a legal right that grants the creator of an original work exclusive rights to control its use and distribution. This includes literary, musical, artistic works, and more recently, computer software. Copyright law protects the expression of an idea rather than the idea itself.

Can You Copyright Computer Software?

Yes, you can copyright computer software. In fact, most countries provide legal protection for software under their copyright laws. In the United States, for example, software is considered a form of literary work and is protected by copyright law.

What Does Copyright Protection for Software Entail?

Copyright protection for computer software grants the creator or owner exclusive rights to:

  • Reproduce or make copies of the software
  • Distribute copies of the software
  • Create derivative works based on the original program
  • Publicly display or perform the software

These rights allow creators or owners to prevent others from copying or distributing their work without permission.

How Do You Obtain Copyright Protection for Software?

In most countries, including the United States, copyright protection is automatic as soon as an original work is created. However, it’s recommended that creators register their works with their country’s copyright office to have legal proof of ownership in case of infringement claims.

In addition to registration, it’s important to properly document your work and keep records of its development process. This can help in proving ownership and defending against infringement claims.


In conclusion, software can be copyrighted, and it’s important for creators and owners to understand their rights under copyright law. By obtaining legal protection for their work and taking necessary precautions to defend their ownership, creators can ensure that their hard work is protected in the digital world.