Are Software or OS Visuals Protected By Copyright?

0 votes
asked Aug 22, 2010 by VvCompHelpvV (926 points)
Alright...I'm a bit puzzled...I really want to file a counter-claim on my YouTube video.

Basically I made a video tutorial on Adobe Photoshop.  In the video I included a picture that was not mine (but I did get permission to use it from the site that owns it).  I specifically made it clear that I had the permission to use the image in my submission to YouTube for revenue sharing (I am a YouTube partner.)

Now...out of no where "Adobe Incorporated" filed a "Audio-Visual" Copyright claim against my tutorial...and it was taken down.  I want to know if it's safe to file a counter-claim to get the strike removed.  Just thinking about my channel having a strike makes me uneasy.   I am now wondering if it was the software visuals that is copyrighted...if so then why aren't loads of tutorialists getting strikes against their videos?

Also, are Operation System Visuals Protected by Copyright?

3 Answers

+1 vote
answered Aug 22, 2010 by Granit (6,325 points)
This is an extremely complex topic that has gone on for many years.  One of the first and well known cases is Apple v. Microsoft and Hewlett-Packard.. in Which Apple had given Microsoft limited rights to the Mac GUI IP for Windows 1.  When WIndows 2 came out, the agreement did not cover it and the user interface was so strikingly similar to the Mac GUI that Apple sued... However, Apple themselves were already in agreement with Xerox PARC for GUI concepts and that agreement did not allow Apple to license off to MIcrosoft.. this lead to Xerox PARC sueing Apple.. So we have 4 companies in a lawsuit battle over the GUI and "look and feel" of software.

At the time, no one knew if the GUI and even the look and feel of it could be copyrightable.. it was an entirely new thing, After about 3 years the judge finally came down with a decision that implementations of source code could be copyrighted,  features, however, could not be.  The GUI itself could be copyrighted if and only if it was unique to a certain threshold and if there were more ways in doing a specific job.  For example, Apple did not win on the basis of the actual Windowing systems as the judge could not come up with another way of doing it.. it could not be considered a unique approach as it was seen as the only one.  On the other hand, Apple won on the Trash can.. which is why you see a Recycle bin on Windows.  Overall, Apple loss the case.. only winning a small share such as a menu bar on the top of the screen (The menu bar was actually invented at Apple in 1979).

Apple would later try to appeal, and in 1994 they began a new lawsuit, Apple v. Microsoft after pirated Quicktime hardware acceleration source code was found in Windows 95's DCI framework.  Apple added this to the GUI disputes and had planned to aim for $3 billion dollars in damages.  Steve Jobs however came back as an advisor to Apple in late 1996 and made Apple settle with Microsoft under a 5 year deal to stop the feud.

So it mostly comes down to:  ideas are not copyrightable,  unique implementations or expressions of the ideas are copyrightable... however, if it is not unique in the sense that there is only one way of doing something then it cannot be copyrighted.  Unique in the sense that it is just one of the approaches in implementing a specific idea, only possible if there is more than one way to implement it.

From my experience with Photoshop, I can't see them necessarily able to get the entire GUI design copyrightable, but it is possible.  At the same time, I'm not sure about the legal issues of allowing someone to use it for such a thing as video tutorials... at least if you put in credits the names and companies that developed the product.
commented Aug 22, 2010 by VvCompHelpvV (926 points)
*Sigh*...I'm still stuck in this pickle.  But thanks for the information...helped clear a lot of things up.
commented Aug 22, 2010 by Granit (6,325 points)
Yeah, I wish I could say something a bit more direct towards this specific case, but it's always a really confusing mess when it comes to copyrighting the GUI of software.  It possibly was due to something else you may have over looked.
0 votes
answered Aug 22, 2010 by AlanStryder (2,031 points)
I always thought that there was some kind of exception in American copyright law regarding the reproduction of works for the sole purpose of education... in this case your educational tutorial.  I'm quite certain that this is how quite a bit of copyrighted material ends up in low-budget documentaries for example.

I'm no lawyer, but I'm certain I've come across this before.  You might look further into that.
commented Aug 22, 2010 by trueb (16,137 points)
i think that only apply's to educational organizations (university, schools)
0 votes
answered Aug 22, 2010 by trueb (16,137 points)
can you ask what exactly was a copyright violation? maybe redo the video to correct the violation?
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