[nycphp-talk] Ownership of Code

tedd tedd at
Sun Jan 14 12:02:45 EST 2007

At 4:56 PM -0500 1/13/07, Ken Downs wrote:
>tedd <tedd at> wrote:
>>  Do you see the common thread here? There are things you have control
>>  over and there are things that you don't -- and, you don't have much
>>  control over the net. So, if you're going to work on the net, then
>>  stop worrying about your code, let clients do what they want (in most
>>  cases they don't know anyway), and get on with your life.
>>  Sure, you can (and should) address the ownership aspect of your work
>>  product in your contracts, but realize that it's nearly a moot point
>>  when it comes to enforceability.
>Tedd, overall well put, but I would add one more detail.  Sometimes 
>its not about enforceability but about expectations.  A contract, 
>like a lock, only keeps honest people honest.  But just as a lock 
>says, "you need permission to enter here", a contract stating 
>ownership of code indicates to the customer what kind of 
>relationship you expect. 
>I can think of two cases where this came in very handy for me.  In 
>one case the client objected strongly to a clause in my contract, 
>which hit to the very base of how I worked.  Ultimately I had to let 
>that one go, as i figured he'd be an unprofitable customer.  But 
>what if the contract had not raised this point, we went forward, and 
>then discovered how far apart we were in expectations?
>In a similar case the contract caused my client to ask a lot of 
>detailed questions that gave us a better understanding of each 
>other's position, and we have worked well together.

Yes, I agree totally and that's the reason why I said that you should 
address those concerns in your agreement, in whatever form that may 

Without exception, I always spell out what's important to me and try 
to explain in clear detail to the client as to what their rights and 
obligations are. I do this only for clarification and not for "under 
threat of law suit".

You see, I spent over 20 years in continuous overlapping lawsuits -- 
while I made more money than I should have, it took it's toll and I 
never want to be in anther law suit in my life. You don't like doing 
business with me, or want your money back -- here it is. In fact, 
almost all my work is paid on approval. But, don't tell anyone that. 


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