Ownership of Code

  • chamindavaas
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Post 3+ Months Ago

Hey,

Could anyone tell me who owns code? If I take a website that has already been developed by another company to a new web developer to be tweaked. Can he then turn around and say that he owns the soft code. Also if I take a layout of how I want a website to function, I layout were everything is meant to go and draw out how the site is to function and all they have to do is put it together, do they have a right to the soft code. Our web developer is trying to claim that he owns the soft code and he will give us the right to use it even though the code has been built off our intellectual property and without that intellectual property there would be no code. Could anyone enlighten me on who owns the soft code, the client or the developer and who has the right to use that code. Our web developer now wants to use the code to develop 5 other similar sites for other clients? Is he allowed to do this?
  • ATNO/TW
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Post 3+ Months Ago

Check your contract with your developer. You should have stipulated in the contract that upon completion all rights to the software go to you. If you didn't then he can basically continue to use it because he did write it. As far as whether your current developer can rightfully use it? You'd be best served asking an attorney for advice on the legalities of it.
  • chamindavaas
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Post 3+ Months Ago

Doesn't the rights go to me because I own the intellectual property behind the code? If it wasn't for my idea there would be no code.
  • ATNO/TW
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Post 3+ Months Ago

I never really looked into it all that deeply, but I did a little checking. I found this for the U.K.
http://www.copyrightservice.co.uk/prote ... ign_rights
Read section 2

There may be something similar in the US. Try a few searches for design rights or variations of it.
  • ATNO/TW
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Post 3+ Months Ago

And here is an example of why I mentioned reviewing the contract from the original designer. In this contract, the design company specifies that the source code remains their rights and property or their subcontractors. Item 14.

http://www.wilsonweb.com/worksheet/pkg-con.htm

Quote:
Rights to photos, graphics, source code, work-up files, and computer programs are specifically not transferred to the client, and remain the property of their respective owners.
  • graphixboy
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Post 3+ Months Ago

typically the rights to the code go to who ever knew how to type it into the system to make it run unless as ATNO said it is stipulated in the contract.

What your asking is a little like saying that you have the rights to all of Picasso's paintings because you invented paint and canvas. Most of us would agree that Picasso's talent and ability could have been applied to any medium and therefore is outside of ownership by anyone else.

This is frequently the mindset for most web development. If I created a javascript to make images swap. I would own the rights to that code even though I don't own the intellectual property of javascript itself. I have a hard time believing that you own enough intellectual property to make all of a web developer's code cease to work. certain portions may not work without your property but the vast majority (display code, links, database draws, etc) should be owned by whoever created it.

The one exception here is that code created while in the employ of another entity (company, individual, etc) is USUALLY owned by the other entity. So if you hired the developer as an employee (not a contractor or freelancer) then it would be much easier to argue your ownership over code.
  • joebert
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Post 3+ Months Ago

Posession is 9/10ths of the law, if you have the goods, tell them to piss off & you'll see them in court.

I'm not kidding. (for once)
  • businessservicesuk
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Post 3+ Months Ago

There is probably some law somewhere, but as a case of law it would be flimsy

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