[nycphp-talk] Ownership of Code

Kenneth Downs ken at
Thu Jan 11 19:14:59 EST 2007

My contract states explicitly and without question that the code is 
solely owned by Secure Data Software, who are free to do with it 
whatever they want.  This may sound extreme or unreasonable, but it is 
the only way to move forward as a custom shop, otherwise you end up in 
the hall of mirrors trying to figure what line of code belongs to whom 
and why it was written and when and what if you copy-n-pasted it and 
what if its just a coincidence and what if every other line spells out 
the name of the third Holy Roman emperor?  So, to keep it simple, I can 
give customer X anything he needs, because everything I did for customer 
X-1, and X-2, and X-3, back to customer zero, belongs to SDS.

The same contract also states that the customer enjoys a perpetual 
license to use the software.  This is all they really want.  They can 
use it forever with no further obligation, this way they are not trapped 
or vulnerable.

Going off into other areas, while Andromeda is a GPL'd product, a 
commercial license is required if SDS is going to provide support and code.

There are many ways you can do it.

Dell Sala wrote:
> 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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