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Abstract

The non-literal elements of a computer program, such as its user interface, are crucial in determining that program's success on the commercial market. Such non-literal elements represent a substantial portion of the development costs of a program, but they are quite inexpensive to copy. Courts are currently unable to agree on the extent to which copyright law offers protection to the non-literal elements of computer programs, leaving the industry uncertain and hesitant to develop new user interfaces. This article develops a principled approach for determining the proper scope of copyright protection for the nonliteral elements of computer programs.

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