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  1. #1
    Chive On FFCus's Avatar
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    Holding Database Hostage

    I have recently taken over a project. One of the first things the client would like is for me to move the site to a new server. However, the last design firm is saying that the database cannot be transferred and will only provide an export of some data in a spreadsheet. Essentially, they're trying to hold the data hostage.

    Is anyone familiar with some case law or legal actions we can reference to research before this escalates? The original contract makes no mention of the database being proprietary or unable to export. Have you ever refused to do a MySQL database dump for an existing client? If so, why?

  2. #2
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    Quote Originally Posted by FFCus View Post
    Essentially, they're trying to hold the data hostage.
    It doesn't sound like they are holding the data hostage, they've offered to provide this as a spreadsheet export. What about the rest of the site, i.e. the server side scripts communicating with the database? Have they released this to you, or are you having to re-write this from scratch?

    What reason are they giving for holding back on the database structure?

    Also, while I appreciate that you just want to get on with the job of creating the new site, I'd be weary about getting too involved with what is essentially a contract dispute between your client and a previous contractor.

  3. #3
    Chive On FFCus's Avatar
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    It doesn't sound like they are holding the data hostage, they've offered to provide this as a spreadsheet export.
    The client requested a full dump of the MySQL database to replicate it on the new server. Data, tables, SP's, etc. The client originally paid for a site that relies on the database structure - however, by not releasing the database structure it puts us in a position where we would need to recreate everything. That's very unfair to the client. They paid once for this product to be developed.

    Also, while I appreciate that you just want to get on with the job of creating the new site, I'd be weary about getting too involved with what is essentially a contract dispute between your client and a previous contractor.
    My role is also that of client advocate. They have been bullied for too long and need a knowledgeable partner during this process. These are billable hours - I'm not donating my time. If I ran away, the client would be stuck in the same position they have been for too long.

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    What reason are they giving for not releasing the structure? Are they claiming copyright? Trade secrets? Contract clauses? Or just being plain awkward?

  5. #5
    SitePoint Wizard LiquidReflex's Avatar
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    I would also suggest checking with the Client to find out if there is an Agreement as to why they may not have the rights to all of the database information. If they agreed to something that would keep the content on their host, they may not be able to get it legally.

    However, if you have full rights to it, you should be able to retrieve this information legally.

    If they are not willing to provide this, if you still have FTP access to the server and the database access details (host, table name, username, password) to connect to it via a script, you can run a script to essentially do the same dump on your own, cutting them out of the equation.
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    It appears as though the previous client is not willing to hand over the work required to structure the database, but they are willing to hand over the data (since it isn't theirs). In my opinion and experience, their behavior is correct. Their method of organizing the database belongs to them, just as the method in which you (now) organize the database will be yours.
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  7. #7
    Life is short. Be happy today! silver trophybronze trophy Sagewing's Avatar
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    Agreed this boils down to the agreement that was signed. The client either does or does not have the rights to get the database.
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