[nycphp-talk] Ownership of Code

Anirudh Zala arzala at
Fri Jan 12 00:29:40 EST 2007

On Friday 12 January 2007 08:21, Jon Baer wrote:
> There is an even harder part to this topic ... things that I have
> written have always stayed w/ the client and even when I was not
> freelance it was still really 'work for hire' ... *but* you can work
> yourself into a bind because some larger media companies (like a
> Viacom) will have really strict guidelines and when you spend say 2-3
> years working on backend CMS/Flash applications its hard to show your
> work when trying for another gig.  The real gem other companies seem
> to want to see is nice/clean "reusable" OO code, which is just that,
> "reused" from your previous experience.  Every developer has their
> own toolkit filled w/ libraries that do the job they are asked or
> they end up on PEAR, Zend, etc and reuse something else.  In open
> source I find it extremely hard to find things which another company
> can rightfully claim as the "owner".

Exactly hit the target. In open source world there is common understanding 
that whatever I do for you (company, client) is yours and you have copyright 
of it excluding the *skills* that I have used to create it.  This clearly 
stats that as long as I have these *skills* I can create similar kind of code 
which is not part of that copyright code.

So I assume, situation is mostly in hands of author who designs that code.

> It's probably more of an advantage to ask a company what their
> license really is and if they don't have one, go to http://
> and pick one or come up with one
> *before* starting so you know where you stand.
> Good topic/discussion though.
> - Jon
> On Jan 11, 2007, at 6:48 PM, 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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Anirudh Zala
(Building standards)

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