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  1. #1
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    Unhappy My programmer charging me a fee on top of me paying him to build my software

    So my question for all of you is. I am paying my programmer $8,000 dollars to program my new software. I told him i wanted the software exclusively mine. he stated that is no problem, but is now charging me another $7,000 dollars on top of the original $8,000 to exclusively be mine and no one else including him can sell it.

    Is this right? How is it i paid him to write the code for my personal program and now he is charging me a big flat fee so that i exclusivly am the only one to sell the software. It should have already been mine to begin with right? So does this mean if i do not pay him the money that now he can go and sell the program i personally paid him to develope? PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE help me.

  2. #2
    SitePoint Addict NetNerd85's Avatar
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    You will need to speak to a lawyer to find out what the copyright is for the software. Did you sign a contract with details on ownership of the source code? Generally (I think) it should be yours exclusively any way. The programmer sounds like a scumbag, being a programmer myself I find this behaviour disgusting. IMO clients always have exclusive rights to the code I'm hired to write for them. Definitely speak to a lawyer.

    But do keep in mind, is it worth it? would someone want to use it again? depending on the type of software it might not be worth it any way.
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  3. #3
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    me, i wouldn't drop eighty bucks, never mind eight large, without a contract

    i think you just learned a lesson, sorry to say
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  4. #4
    SitePoint Zealot TexasBob's Avatar
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    Without knowing the details, all I can say is that you better have a work-for-hire contract. It is quite probable that your developer has the right to re-use code he has devloped for your project.

    Also, without knowing the details it is really hard to say if the programmer is a scumbag or not.

    And, without knowing the details, I agree with NN85 that you might want to really question if it is worth it to you to prevent the software from being re-sold.

  5. #5
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    Next time, make sure you cover all this stuff before you begin the project and have the exact licensing terms written into the contract.

    Many developers will wish to retain some rights to aspects of the code they create, just so they can re-use elements in future projects, such as code functions and classes etc. Perhaps he's already created a content management system that he uses in all his projects - he's certainly not going to want to sign that over to you.

    But beyond that, you need to make it clear that this is a 'work for hire' situation first and foremost, so you retain complete ownership rights to the 'entire application', and you control what, if any rights, the developer may be allowed to retain.

    Without that agreement in place, it makes things tricky when a developer starts making demands of ownership - it's ultimately up to a court to decide one way or the other, as in many cases, the spirit of the agreement is clearly 'work for hire'.

    I suggest you sit down and talk to the developer to ensure you understand what it is he actually wants and why he wants it. Go back and check what is it you were actually paying him the original $8k for.

  6. #6
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    The programmer is correct in charging you for the exclusive right to the code -- under U.S. Copyright law, when you hire a programmer to write code for you, who is not an employee, the programmer owns the copyright and what you are paying for is a license to use the code. If you want the programmer to give up his copyright to you, then of course he is going to charge you for that because now you have the right to resell it.

    As an example, look at templatemonster.com. You will see a price for the template, plus a second price that is for exclusive use. There's a flash template whose price is $220, and the unique price is $8500.

  7. #7
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    By providing you a non-exclusive license, he can include code he's created earlier or free licensed code from other sources, into the project. Thus making development time shorter. However if you demand exclusivity he may have to create more code from scratch. Moreover he's unable to add code from your project into his code library for later use, which makes your project less valuable for him, unless you compensate that loss.

    So it's not necessarily out of greed the developer quote you a significantly higher price for an exclusive license.

    I don't know how far you're in the process. However what is unfortunate is the mismatch between your and the developer's expectations. If there is no written contract between you, I would say this is the error of you both.

    The legal default is that copyright belongs to the creator (the developer), unless he transfer that copyright to you. So if such transfer lacks in your agreement, he is probably not doing anything legally wrong by quoting you a higher price for exclusivity / copyright. However there may (or may not) be an ethical issue.
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  8. #8
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    Wow! Thanks to all who have replied. I have some further questions. Stand by.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Specialblend25 View Post
    It should have already been mine to begin with right? So does this mean if i do not pay him the money that now he can go and sell the program i personally paid him to develope? PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE help me.
    If you don't have a legal agreement ... how can you prove anything.
    The conversation might help ... but not to much.
    So yes it can sell your software.
    However if you paid that much you must have a marketing plan. If that is better then his ( considering he is a programmer not a business man ) than you can can take him by force ( better and faster organization ).

  10. #10
    Programming Since 1978 silver trophybronze trophy felgall's Avatar
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    That's a relatively small difference between a licence to use the code (if that's what the lower payment is for) and exclusive use.

    For something like Microsoft Office the cost of a licence is a few hundred dollars while the cost of exclusive ownership would be hundreds of billions. Of course what you are paying for would be nowhere near as complicated but only charging that much extra for code you can then never reuse in other projects is a bit shortsighted.
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  11. #11
    Life is short. Be happy today! silver trophybronze trophy Sagewing's Avatar
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    <blah blah blah> should have had a written contract <blah blah blah>.

    So, you said that you 'told him you wanted exclusive rights' but does the developer acknowledge this at all?
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  12. #12
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    I am a programmer and my contracts state that the portions of the code that are proprietary to the clients business procedures are his exclusively. And that I guard the client's trade secrets with the same care as I guard my own.

    But the code that I reuse on a regular basis like data manipulation and javascript/css libraries are mine. If he demands the ownership of these items (and no one ever has) I would have to charge him for my time to 're-invent the wheel,' so to speak.

    BUT, that being said, to spring this on you AFTER the delivery of the job is, IMHO, unethical and is subject to give us hard-working free-lancers a bad name. Shame on him!!


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