[nycphp-talk] Ownership of Code

inforequest 1j0lkq002 at
Thu Jan 11 19:23:40 EST 2007

Keith Casey |nyphp dev/internal group 
use| wrote:

> On 1/11/07, Dell Sala <dell at> wrote:
>> 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
> Just for clarity purposes, there are *licenses* and *copyrights* and
> they are fundamentally different things.  A license are terms under
> which you use or grant usage of a copyrighted work.  If you give
> someone a *license*, they are bound to the terms of the license, but
> they don't necessarily have any copyright (ownership) of the material.
> All licenses - GPL, BSD, MPL, or the screwiest EULA you've ever read -
> are based on the principles of copyright.  If you grant ownership of
> something to someone, they can do whatever they want with it and
> determine their own license.
> keith
Copyright is not ownership. One can "own" something yet not have the 
copyright(s). One can control the copyright(s) of something without 
owning it.

There are well established models of legal commerce regarding tangeable 
things like books and photographs. The photographer "creates" a work (on 
film, as a latent image) and is granted the rights to control 
distribution of that work (he has a copyright). He may also own the 
negative. If you sells you a print, you own the print, but not a right 
to copy that print to make more (except as specifically allowed by law, 
or by license, as an exception to the copyright).

What happens when the "thing" is not tangeable? What if the "negative" 
is actually just code (as in a digital image, or a software program)? Or 
what if it was just a thought, never "recorded" to any storage media?

Sorry folks. They are still figuring that one out.

Now the advocates of software copyrights, patents, creative commons, 
free speech, save the whales, no nukes, and Impeach Bush can chime in 
and continue the argument that has been going on for many years.

The actual answer has nothing to do with logic or reason IMHO, but  is 
whatever your expensive lawyer says you should do... today... to set up 
your business the way you and your client's want it (provided you have a 
good aware and experienced lawyer). Remember that lawyers are paid to 
argue,  so  caveat emptor.

Your web server traffic log file is the most important source of web business information available. Do you know where your logs are right now? Do you know who else has access to your log files? When they were last archived? Where those archives are? --John Andrews Competitive Webmaster and SEO Blogging at

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