[nycphp-talk] Ownership of Code

Dell Sala dell at
Thu Jan 11 18:48:46 EST 2007

Hi all,

I have a client that has run into a conflict with a previous  
developer over the ownership of some php code, and it's brought up  
some pretty big questions for me.

When I am under contract to develop some custom code for a client,  
who owns the code after it is finished? I expect the quick answer to  
be "It Depends".

In the particular case I mentioned, my understanding is that there  
was no prior discussion of code ownership, or even a contract -- only  
a brief, home-made copyright statement embedded in the source code  
after it was completed. Can something like that really determine  
ownership in a legal context?

My own position on this as a freelance developer (never really  
discussed or documented in contracts), has been that any code I  
write, or open source code that I install for a client belongs to the  
client -- as long as I can reuse the same code that I write for other  
projects and clients. Thats a pretty loose position, but my  
relationship with clients has always been good and I haven't run into  
any trouble so far. Am I, or my clients as risk here somehow?

What do the rest of you do? I'd be particularly interested in hearing  
from other freelance developers. Any good resources out there for  
learning about code ownership and licensing issues?

-- Dell

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