I write the code, but who owns it?

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Postby jack_spratt » Mon Apr 26, 2010 1:35 pm

I suspect it would come down to who blinks first when it comes to forking out the £££ for legal representation


I think that you may be right there, and I suspect that in such a situation, I'll "blink" first.

Currently I'm getting advice at £250 per hour plus VAT, but I expect to only require 1hr to get a definitive answer on where I stand. Being in the right in terms of ownership does not necessarily mean that I wont have to go to court however. They could still dispute it, even if I'm totally confident of my position :(
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Postby nelz » Mon Apr 26, 2010 1:57 pm

ollie wrote:
nelz wrote:You have to have copyright on the code in order to be able to license it.


There is no formal method of copyright. Once you have written down, drawn, painted, sculpted, photographed or typed out you hold copyright on that "work". It is only by actively changing the licence by specifying GPL, Creative Commons or any of the other licences that can be used.


That only applies when you are working in isolation, otherwise there would be no reason for this thread to exist. The OP has reasonable doubts about the ownership of the code, any licence issued by anyone claiming ownership of the code would depend on that ownership being proved.

You cannot use a licence to prove ownership.
"Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results." (Albert Einstein)
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Postby johnhudson » Mon Apr 26, 2010 6:52 pm

ollie wrote:Contractors own the code they write unless specifically stated so in the contract. You need a to consult with a contracts lawyer.


Thanks. Sorry for the misinformation. I've realised on checking Wikipedia that the advice I got related to the type of contract I was most commonly undertaking and doesn't apply in general.
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Postby Bazza » Mon Apr 26, 2010 7:06 pm

One could always write parallel code that uses similar routines
and release those as your (C), PD, GPL, Freeware etc, etc,
BEFORE releasing the customers code. That way you have an
official time stamp BEFORE the customer and in the Public
Domain somewhere, say sourceforge.net...

Tell the customer that you used YOUR code for their usage
and that you release your code/ideas to them free of any
restrictions.

Not sure if it would work but an idea nevertheless...
73...

Bazza, G0LCU...

Team AMIGA...
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Postby graemef » Tue Apr 27, 2010 1:30 am

Releasing the code first could be a dangerous move because (given there is some potential for dispute) the company might just take the released code and refuse payment.

I also believe that there are valid situations where both parties may lay claim to parts of the IP rights. Any unique concept within the specification provided by the client should reside with the client, that is their competitive advantage which they have paid the contractor to convert into code. However if the specification just mentioned the ideas whilst the contractor packages the various concepts into self contained units, then the contractor has a valid claim that the libraries of code is the property of the contractor.

For example, suppose that a estate agent has the idea of a potential client visiting their site and entering a post code, where upon the web site will return a list of property available with a geographical radius of the postcode, showing maps and routes to the properties. This is their idea and they may claim IP rights to the idea. The contractor may write code that will verify the postcode, convert the postcode to a geographical location, identify all properties within a radius of the postcode, grab map data from this data and so on. Each of the functions that the contractor develops help to solve the problem but they need to be put together to actually realise the clients ideas. The contractor can claim the IP rights to the individual functions whilst the client can lay claim to the IP rights on how those functions are assembled.

In such a situation it is not unreasonable for a contract to specify non disclosure to a competitor. Thus you can't build the same concept for another estate agent (normally within a stipulated time period) but it wouldn't stop the same contractor from using the functions for a different market, such as a chain of restaurants where a visitor to the web site enters a postcode and they are given directions to the nearest restaurant.
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Postby Dutch_Master » Tue Apr 27, 2010 1:38 am

graemef wrote:For example, suppose that a estate agent has the idea of a potential client visiting their site and entering a post code, where upon the web site will return a list of property available with a geographical radius of the postcode, showing maps and routes to the properties. This is their idea and they may claim IP rights to the idea. The contractor may write code that will verify the postcode, convert the postcode to a geographical location, identify all properties within a radius of the postcode, grab map data from this data and so on. Each of the functions that the contractor develops help to solve the problem but they need to be put together to actually realise the clients ideas. The contractor can claim the IP rights to the individual functions whilst the client can lay claim to the IP rights on how those functions are assembled.

Actually, that has been done... http://www.funda.nl (note: this is a Dutch website) ;)

:mrgreen:
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