Under the US Copyright Act, , 17 U.S.C. § 101, computer programs are considered literary works and are protected against copying. The creator of the program is the author, and has the sole right to reproduce, create derivative works, and distribute the software. However, under work-for-hire arrangements, a developer is contracted to develop software for a client. In this case, copyright in the software may vest in the client instead of the developer but there must be an agreement in writing between the parties stating that the work product is to be considered a work for hire.
And only the work itself is protected from copying. Anyone can copy the ideas contained in the work.