Intellectual Property Laws

  1. The three main protections for intellectual property in the United States are provided by U.S. copyright law. U.S.  copyright law gives the creator of a work exclusive right to:
  • Reproduce and distribute the original work to the public
  • Create new works based upon the original work
  • Perform or display the work publicly

2. “Fair use” is a statutory exception in U.S. copyright law which grants the public the right to use portions of a copyrighted work without permission from the copyright owner.  One must consider the following four factors to determine if their use of a copyrighted work is fair use:


  • The purpose and character of the use. (e.g. commercial v. nonprofit, educational purposes)
  • The nature of the copyrighted work (e.g. Is the copyrighted work creative or primarily factual?)
  • The amount the portion used in relation to the copyrighted work as a whole. Was the amount necessary?
  • The effect of the use upon the potential market for, or value of, the copyrighted work.

3. I believe intellectual property laws positively influence research in computer science. Copyright laws protect a researcher’s work but also allow for sharing. Sharing and collaboration are key components of advancing the field of computer science. Some of the best ideas stem from reading and using the code of others. Under U.S. copyright law, fair use and public domain status allow researchers to use each other’s work for legitimate purposes, namely, further research and development. Intellectual property laws enable researchers to expand and improve upon the work of other researchers.