So the first thing that I was unsure of was if I needed to do anything to copyright my app or was it just copyrighted automatically. Then if I needed to do something to copyright my app, what did I need to do and how?
To answer the first question, in the United States and most countries around the world you content is automatically copyrighted from the moment it is created. According to Copyright.gov a “Copyright, a form of intellectual property law, protects original works of authorship including literary, dramatic, musical, and artistic works, such as poetry, novels, movies, songs, computer software, and architecture. Copyright does not protect facts, ideas, systems, or methods of operation, although it may protect the way these things are expressed. See Circular 1, Copyright Basics, section ‘What Works Are Protected.” (Copyright.gov – Frequently Asked Questions about Copyright)
In terms of your app, this generally means that you get your source code, graphics, or any text inside your app copyrighted. But normally your ideas, facts, systems, or methods of operation will not be protected.
So even though copyrights are “free”, there are some advantages of registering your copyright. When you register your copy right with US Copyright office they know when and what you copyright. By doing this it makes it much easier to protect code and could allow you to win more money in a lawsuit. To file a copyright it can be as cheap as $35 and can be filed completely online at http://www.copyright.gov/eco/. ECO stands for “electronic copyright office”. If you wish to file the copyright yourself this is a helpful tutorial online at http://www.copyright.gov/eco/eco-tutorial.pdf.
Remember that there are some limitations to copyrights as well. For example if you have an app that recommends food substitutes your graphics and text are copyrighted but not your concept. A copyright would not protect someone else from making an app with similar concepts.
- National Instruments – How to “copyright” your code?
- Phandroid – How to copyright an app
- US Copyright Office – Copyright Registration for Computer Programs
- Wikipedia – Software copyright
- Copyright.gov – Frequently Asked Questions about Copyright
- Templetons.com – Copyright – 10 myths about copyrights
- About.com – Copyright Laws: What is “Automatic Copyright Protection?”
- WikiAnswers – How do you copyright something?