Flash .exe/.swf files are creative works and qualifies for protection under the Copyright Act. While lawyers could argue, until your house was reposessed on the semantics, the aim of copyright legislation is designed to strike a balance between protecting the creative works of indivduals and impeding on the rights to Free Speech and to learn.
Regardless of whether your creative work has the word "Copyright", a little 'c' with a circle around it, ©, or the words "All rights reserved" on it or not, it is protected from copyright infringement at the time of creation. However having said that the best way to ensure your copyright is by advertising it. Use the Copyright symbol, followed by the year of publication, then the name of the copyright proprietor.
Like this, © Copyright John Citizen.
The key words to remember when deciding if your work has been infringed upon are "removal" and "alteration" of CMI and "distribution" of your work. In the spirit of the law, if someone loaded your movie into theirs with/without modification and without permission in a commercial context, it would constitute an infringement. If someone reverse engineers your .exe/.swf file and copies a substantial amount of your design, again in a commercial context, that too would constitute an infringment.
However that being said, if someone was copying/reverse engineering a small portion of your work for not-for-profit educational purposes, this would most probably not constitute an infringement of copyright. I'm am keeping this general because there is no hard and fast rule for deciding what is fair use and what is an infringment. The courts decide on the issue on a case-by-case basis.
There are currently no legal precedents in the US that bar linking to another site's home page or deep-linking into the same site. Nor is there such a thing as an international copyright that will automatically protect an authors work throughout the world. Protection against unauthorized use in a particular country basically depends on the national laws of that country. However, most countries offer protection to foreign works under certain conditions which have been greatly simplified by international copyright treaties and conventions.
Disclaimer: This document was prepared JUNE 2000. It is not legal advice and should not be taken as such. For legal advice please contact your lawyer or the Copyright office in your country. This is merely an article aimed at educating Flash designers of the concepts of copyrights.
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