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Copyrights

 
Ahsan Saeed
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Hi all,

I have started working as an Independent Contractor (time based contract - 6 months) for a company in California.

I want to know if the source code belongs to the company or do they only get the executables. I do not have any verbal or written agreement with the company regarding the source code.

Ahsan
[ September 09, 2005: Message edited by: Ahsan Saeed ]
 
Damanjit Kaur
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Somewhere I have been reading, Copyrights will reside with the company. As per a contract between company and a third party, The company will get the Copyright for any software written by the third party automatically.
 
Ahsan Saeed
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Don't you think it should be explicitly stated in the contract ?

In the past I have been signing contracts with companies where it is clearly stated that all source code, documentation etc will belong to the company.
 
Damanjit Kaur
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Actually I have been reading about differences between Copyrights Act in US and India. According to US Copyright Act its presumed that copyrights for software will be with the company when it gets that work done from a person who may not be its employee and so this fact is not required to be mentioned in the contract as its already presumed.

But as per Indian Copyright Act, there is no such assumption re. copyright getting automatically with the company unless the program has been developed by its employee and not by some third person hired to do the work.
 
Anand Prabhu
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Originally posted by Damanjit Kaur:
Actually I have been reading about differences between Copyrights Act in US and India. According to US Copyright Act its presumed that copyrights for software will be with the company when it gets that work done from a person who may not be its employee and so this fact is not required to be mentioned in the contract as its already presumed.

But as per Indian Copyright Act, there is no such assumption re. copyright getting automatically with the company unless the program has been developed by its employee and not by some third person hired to do the work.


This reply makes good sense. Though I was an employee, I too battled with these issues when I was in my previous companies and later switched. I had developed a lot of utility classes and scripts. Was it correct/ethical on my part to use them at my new employer? I had developed some of these classes at home as we were allowed to work from home on weekends or late nights on critical projects. Or should I start from scratch at the new place which had just started Java development? I opted to go from scratch but I used my old ideas and of course pull many classes from the net(shareware etc).
 
Mark Herschberg
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Both the corporate lawyers and yours (if you had one, or yourself if you didn't) screwed up but not explicitly stating this in the contract. I'm no lawyer, but I think it might have as much to do with state employment laws as with copyright law. I'd err on the side of caution and assume it belongs to the company. Practically speaking, their lawyers can probably beat up your lawyers so it's theirs.

As for work you did at home, it depends, but probably belongs to the company. It depends on your contract and state law. Most contracts I've signed state that any work I do relating (and that's the key word) to the company is their property, even if I do it on my time with my resources. This does not include independent work you do on your own.

--Mark
 
Deep Arora
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oouch it never occured to me who keeps the code, I really dont know why I would want to keep the code or lay a claim on it.

This is not to say that there may not be a good reason neither I am questioning the intent of person initiating the thread but if you can shed some light on the motivation behind the question we will also be enlightened by something we have never considered or are not aware of will You?

Deepak
 
Damanjit Kaur
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Deep Arora
oouch it never occured to me who keeps the code, I really dont know why I would want to keep the code or lay a claim on it.


You might want to keep the code in case you feel you have developed something really good with some unique ideas.

And so by keeping the ownership to the code, you can sell it to others too and also prevent others for using your code without your permission.

But in case you don't have the ownership right (IP rights) over it and try to use the code in other projects, the owner of the code for whom you had developed the program earlier can sue you for using his software/code in other project or for other company.
 
Ahsan Saeed
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Thanks everyone for the valuable guidance.

Ahsan
[ September 11, 2005: Message edited by: Ahsan Saeed ]
 
It is sorta covered in the JavaRanch Style Guide.
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