U.S. Copyright Office Edit
Source code is
Programmers typically write software programs using a high-level computer language such as Basic, C++, or Java. By using the words, symbols and numbers that make up these high-level computer languages, the programmer tells the computer what to do. For instance, the command "ADD (X, Y)" instructs the computer to add the value of the variable X to the variable Y. A computer program written in this high-level language is said to be in source code form.
|| The source code serves two functions. First, it can be treated as comparable to text material, and in that respect can be printed out, read and studied, and loaded into a computer’s memory, in much the same way as documents are loaded into word processing equipment. Second, the source code can be used to cause the computer to execute the program. To accomplish this, the source code is compiled. This involves an automatic process, performed by the computer under the control of a program called a compiler, which translates the source code into object code, which is very difficult to comprehend by human beings. The object code version of the program is then loaded into the computer’s memory and causes the computer to carry out the program function.
A skilled programmer can review the source code and extract the ideas and algorithms contained in it.
- ↑ U.S. Copyright Office, Compendium of Copyright Office Practices II, §321.01 (1984) (full-text).
- ↑ SAS Inst., Inc. v. S&H Computer Sys., Inc., 605 F. Supp. 816, 225 U.S.P.Q. (BNA) 916 (M.D. Tenn. 1985) (full-text).
See also Edit