What Notices Should Be Commonly Included on Software?

Here's a simple warning statement that could be used near a copyright notice contained in software itself.

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Since many people do not really understand what a copyright notice means, many copyright owners include various types of warning or explanatory statements on their websites. The purpose is to make clear to users that the work is copyrighted and may not be reproduced without the copyright owner's permission. It does not cost anything to place this type of statement near the copyright notice, and it may help deter copyright infringement. But remember, such statements do not take the place of a valid copyright notice.

Here's a simple warning statement that could be used near a copyright notice contained in software itself -- both on packaging labels and on the computer screen when the program is activated (for example, it could be placed inside an about or credit box or near the program's title):

This software is copyrighted. The software may not be copied, reproduced, translated or reduced to any electronic medium or machine-readable form without the prior written consent of [Name of Copyright Owner] except that you may make one copy of the program disks solely for back-up purposes.

Here is an example of the type of warning statements that are commonly used in software manuals:

This manual, and the software described in this manual, are copyrighted. No part of this manual or the described software may be copied, reproduced, translated or reduced to any electronic medium or machine-readable form without the prior written consent of [Name of Copyright Owner] except that you may make one copy of the program disks solely for back-up purposes.

A growing number of software publishers are departing from negative sounding statements like those above. Rather, they employ friendly language that is positive and inviting. The reasoning behind this approach is that appealing to an end-user's sense of fair play will get better results than attempting to scare him. Here's an example of such language:

We have worked very hard to create a quality product and wish to realize the fair fruits of our labor. We therefore insist that you honor our copyright. However we want to encourage the use of our product in all possible circumstances and will work very hard to meet your needs if you will call and ask us for permission.

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