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Software Programs and Copyright


n today’s world, many startups are built on software programs, and existing businesses are also transforming through software. Therefore, the legal protection of software  programs has become increasingly important. Under the Copyright Act, computer programs can be legally protected with copyright in Turkey. The most crucial requirement for copyright protection of software programs, which are considered literary works under the Copyright Act, is that the program should have certain original and unique characteristics.

According to the Copyright Act, while imported and domestic computer games are subject to mandatory registration, software programs can be optionally registered to benefit from copyright protection. Copyright protection for a software program is essential not only to prove the “ownership” of the program but also to allow the developer to benefit from copyright rights. Copyright rights include the right to reproduce, distribute, perform, display, and transmit the work, as well as the moral rights of attribution and integrity. Copyright registration provides 70 years of protection, and in case of infringement of copyright, legal remedies such as identification, injunction, and damages, as well as criminal penalties, can be pursued.

As a general rule, the thoughts and principles forming the basis of any element of a software program cannot be subject to copyright protection. Therefore, algorithms and interfaces are not included in the scope of copyright protection. However, program flow, source and object code, and architecture are considered within the scope of copyright protection. A database system can also benefit from copyright protection as long as it does not include data. Computer programs created by adapting, editing, or modifying an existing program, referred to as “derivative works” in the Copyright Act, can also be protected by copyright.

It is essential to note that copyright protection has limitations. Even with a legally obtained software program through copyright registration, a person is allowed to install, run, and correct errors in the program without any contractual restrictions. Similarly, rights such as installing, viewing, and running the program with one backup copy, as well as observing the basic principles underlying the program during use, cannot be prevented by a contract.

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