Copyright law works, differently in different, countries. For example in my locale, Finland, small code snippets do not qualify as works and thus do not get copyright. Same applies to architectural drawings of mundane nature and same applies to several forms of technical drawings. These are then covered by different laws.

First: Even if i do not get copyright over these entities in my locale am I entitled to copyright in those locales that allow such things? For example in the US many of these entities are possible to put under the umbrella copyright.

Second: If an external entity owns the copyright of something that does not fall under copyright in my region does that mean that copyright does not apply to me? With the understanding that i do not use it outside my area.


The Berne Convention is the treaty that creates international copyright.

The existence and duration of copyright is determined by the law in the country of first publication. If you publish these things first in Finland they have no copyright anywhere; if you publish first in say USA, they have copyright everywhere including Finland.

However, the law for determining if there is a breach is the jurisdiction where the breach occurs. So even though these snippets may have copyright protection in Finland by virtue of first publication elsewhere; their use may be allowed under Finnish copyright law.

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  • Okay, that sounds whacked. So how exactly does publication get determined then. If i publish something on stackexhange then I publish in USA right? If not then most Finns would be in violation of stackexhange TOS. But by that token every technical drawing would need to be published in the USA? So what exactly counts as publishing? What stops me from shopping a favorable venue for my copyright. – joojaa Jan 23 '16 at 21:42
  • Nothing - the Berne convention was written in the nineteenth century to prevent book piracy (of which the US was the greatest offender - makes their current outrage at certain east Asian countries seem hypocritical). The drafters did not contemplate simultaneous publication in multiple jurisdictions and case law is pretty thin. – Dale M Jan 23 '16 at 23:19
  • I still have a problem with this as many sources state that copyright is independent of publication so howcome where i publish matters. – joojaa Jan 23 '16 at 23:22
  • Publication means disclosing it to someone who isn't you - not publishing it like it was a book. Copyright starts from when the work is created - which law applies is dependent on where it is first made available to the public; obviously until that happens it is impossible for there to be unauthorized copies. – Dale M Jan 23 '16 at 23:33
  • Ok, im pretty certain i understand now why quite many programmers have a mental problem with copyright. Is a multi user operating system public? – joojaa Jan 23 '16 at 23:46

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