These days, phones have made it so that you can literally carry any and all information you may need in your pocket at all times, seemingly eliminating the need to remember things. For those interested in copyright, this is true as well. Not only is the bulk of information about copyright law available online for free, but there are also several apps that promise to provide even quicker access to that info.
With that in mind, I decided to download and give three of these apps a try.
The results, however, were a bit disappointing, while I was glad to see that they all provided some level of convenience and access, they didn’t seem to offer much that can’t be found online elsewhere.
Still, for some the low-cost of these apps may be more than worthwhile and, to help you make a decision about which, if any, to get, I’ve gone through and reviewed three of the more popular iPhone copyright law apps.
Apptorney: IP is different from the others on the list in that it is not targeted solely at copyright. Created by Erik M. Pelton & Associates, the app provides information on all areas of intellectual property including trademark, patent and copyright.
On the copyright side specifically, the app features links to the copyright office, the USCO’s fees page, the link to download the forms, perform a copyright search, filing a copyright and the full U.S. copyright code, both in text and PDF format.
Unfortunately for those interested in copyright, the app is very trademark-centric. Copyright takes a back seat and, of the links that are provided, many are practically useless on a mobile device, including the one to file a copyright. Though the IP blogs list is interesting, it is mostly made up of trademark blogs, with only two or three sites on the list that discuss copyright at all and none that make it their sole focus.
All in all, it’s a good app for those with a broader interest in intellectual property, but it’s poorly organized and almost useless for those primarily focused on copyright. Also, all the links just point to Web-based resources, meaning it doesn’t do anything you can’t do with bookmarks.
Still, it is free so there’s no harm in trying it.
Copyright Legal Coach
Written Michael Byczek, Copyright Legal Coach (CLC) is a direct opposite to Apptorney: IP. Focused solely on copyright, CLC provides a wealth of information on copyright law and organizes it reasonably well.
Broken down into three parts, registration, U.S. code and Code of Federal Regulations (CFR), the latter of which is comprised of U.S. Copyright Office and Copyright Arbitration Royalty Panel Procedures, CLC will give you more about the law than you ever wanted to know.
The app also doesn’t just link to the relevant web pages, as with Apptorney, and instead includes the text in a very easy-to-read iBooks-like environment. Navigating the app is very straightforward, though I found it odd that the registration guide was the default screen and not the U.S. code, but it’s simple, fast and gives you access to the elements of the law you need quickly.
U.S.C. Title 17: Copyrights
Finally, written by Fitz Collings, U.S.C. Title 17 is an iphone app solely focused on the law itself. In fact, it’s pretty much what the app title says it is, U.S.C Title 17, in easy-to-read format.
Though it’s not as overwhelming as CLC, it does provide less information and, if you aren’t already familiar with the law and what is in each section you might find yourself hunting around for the correct line as the app makes no attempt to explain things in plain English.
One feature I do like is the “Goto” feature which lets you punch in the section number you want to leap to and it automatically opens up that area. So, for example, if you want to go straight to Section 512 it’s a quick jump. Though it doesn’t really save any key presses, it does save some scrolling and searching.
All in all, the information is more bare bones and there’s no effort to break it up, but it’s a complete look at U.S. copyright law.
All in all, these apps are interesting but I’m not really sure how often I’m going to use them. Though I do look up copyright law often, with the law available online on various sites, including the U.S. Copyright Office site. I’m not really sure how important these apps are to have.
That being said, if it is worth it to you to pay 99 cents for an offline, easy-to-read version of the U.S. copyright code, I slightly prefer CLC. The app is just a bit more robust and approachable. Though both it and U.S.C. Title 17 are both easy to use, I like the structure of CLC a bit better and found it to be more complete. That being said, U.S.C. Title 17 is a bit easier to read, using a default larger font.
All in all, it depends on what you want but either app will fulfill the function you want. If you want/need the CFC and prefer headers in plain English, get CLC, just want the law in the most readable format, U.S.C. Title 17 is the better bet.
If you don’t want either but still might want to read the code on your phone in a pinch, just bookmark the USCO site and go there. It works reasonably well.