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Monday, November 9, 2015

Computer Scientists Discuss Their Views of Copyright at Boyd

Photo © 2015 Gary A. Trimble
To the surprise of some copyright law students, copyright law protects computer programs and regularly affects the work of computer programmers. Computer programs enjoy protection as literary works, with protection extending to both source code and object code; copyright also protects the non-literal elements of computer programs under certain circumstances, such as an original structure of a computer program. Additionally, copyright protects original works of authorship that result from the execution of computer programs, which may be pictorial works, musical works, sound recordings, or audiovisual works.

Photo © 2015 Gary A. Trimble
To enhance her copyright students’ understanding of the impact that copyright law has not only on the software industry, but also on other industries that utilize computer programs, this semester Professor Marketa Trimble invited to her Copyright class two colleagues from the Department of Computer Science of the UNLV Howard R. Hughes College of Engineering. Dr. Andreas Stefik and Mr. Guymon Hall explained to the students some of the basic concepts of computer programming and discussed in detail the functioning of an API (application programming interface), an interface that plays a role in the ongoing high-profile dispute between Oracle and Google regarding Google’s Android operating system. Dr. Stefik also shared his experiences with the development and licensing of his Quorum programming language and discussed a number of existing licenses, such as the GNU General Public License v3, the MIT License, and the Apache License, that computer programmers consider when deciding the best ways to license their programs.

Photo © 2015 Gary A. Trimble
Dr. Stefik is a professor of computer science in the College of Engineering; his Ph.D. in computer science is from Washington State University. In 2011 Dr. Stefik received the JavaOne Duke’s Choice Award for his work on the NSF-funded Sodbeans programming environment for the visually impaired. Mr. Guymon Hall is an instructor of computer science in the College of Engineering where he is finishing his Ph.D. He teaches a variety of computer science courses, including Introduction to Computers, Computer Science I and II, Computing Languages, and Managing Big Data & Web Databases.

The cooperation leading to this session of Professor Trimble’s Copyright course makes available to Boyd students the richness of talent that is present throughout UNLV – talent on which Boyd draws and to which the Boyd faculty actively contributes.