Friday, December 17, 2004

Another Copyright Question...

Doing business as a small business owner raises many questions from a legal standpoint that heretofore I had not considered.

Case in Point:
When I was still RDT & Associates and had not formally set up my business entity, I downloaded a Java Calculator Applet and the source code from a site that provided for this type of interaction. The applet was a basic calculator that the author agreed could be modified hence his allowing others to download the source code along with the applet.

At the time I had done a lot of work in C, Fortran, and a myriad of other programming languages but had only lightly delved into the Java environment. I felt enhancing this Java calculator would give me a chance to play with some of the aspects of Java that I was unfamiliar with... The absence of pointers being one of these areas.

I added several functions to his basic calculator including:
  • Function
  • yx Function
  • % Function
  • Made the results text area right justified
The enhanced calculator that I developed is below, is active and can be used --

Your browser doesn't support Java applets.

This is the only Java applet, other than the menu I use on my news service, that does not carry my ©QiSoftware but because it is a published work -- is automatically copyrighted. I am so unclear as to how the law works in this area. With the basis for the new calculator being someone else's work -- what rights do I have to the enhanced version I created?

Today I provide custom Java software tools as part of my business product line. I have not used someone else's work in part or in whole for any of the programs that carry my ©QiSoftware and of course I feel free to offer these tools as part of my product line. I don't offer this calculator... and quite frankly, it is not as sophisticated as those that come as standard features on most operating systems available today. Its main use is to show what can be done with Java in the Internet environment or as a standalone program running on a desktop. A promotional tool...

My questions: If asked can I sell it as my enhanced original work? At what point does enhancement supersede the original foundation that may have existed? In this case, these are only hypothetical questions because I will never offer this tool as part of my product line.

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