One’s claim over something that may be considered as intellectual property, such as software, is not automatically established upon the completion of the software. In this sense, there are steps that are required to be taken in order to gain proper claim over the software produced. There are two methods in attaining a copyright or a patent for a given software which may protect the intellectual property created; although there are differences in the scope, the length and ease of filing the application are present between the two (U. S. Congress – Office of Technological Assessment [USC-OTA], 1990).
Given that ownership to a certain software and having exclusive rights to its distribution and use requires patent or copyright application, then in the situation given wherein my uncle asked me to write a certain software and have not charged him for the services, the question is whether I have applied for either patent or copyright before giving a copy to my uncle.
In this sense, if I have at least applied for a copyright, then my uncle’s actions of freely giving out copies of the software to his peers should be paid for, at the same time requiring my uncle to ask for my permission beforehand. However, if I simply made the software and give it to my uncle, then I should not be concerned if he gives copies of the software for his peers to use since I have no proper claim over the software and in a sense I have just given my uncle complete flexibility as to what may be done to the software.
Possibly, one may not immediately consider a software to be his or her own intellectual property if the law or regulations are concerned. Of course, when disputes over intellectual property is considered, laws pertaining to it are most often used to resolve the issue. Therefore, considering that applying for copyright is relatively easily accomplished (USC-OTA, 1990), then if one believes that the software completed is worthwhile and useful then it would be best to apply for a copyright in order to lay claim over the intellectual property.