App question

Hi all
It is a pretty mute question because I can’t change the outcome even if I wanted to but here goes just in case I run into it again!:

I hired a dev friend from a webdesign company who i used to work with to do an adobe air app for another friend (yeah yeah mates rates I know that is where I went wrong, but that is what mates are for right?!! :slight_smile: ). Anyway the budget as you can imagine was very low and my friend did me a big favour doing the application development. Another friend did the flash and psd designs.

So we have now finished the project. The friend who i did the project for has asked for the sourcecode. I asked my app dev friend for it an he said no way. I respect that decision.

Anyway the friend I did it for is now saying that this is not right. I am sure I am correct in backing up the application developer. What do you guys think? Cheers

That’s a tough one, actually.

It is clear to me that the copyright should stay with the original developer. Unless agreed to (usually involving more significant compensation), that’s how things go with a lot of low end custom development. The developer can’t be turning over copyright each time or they’ll not be able to reuse enough of their code to keep doing those low-value jobs.

On the other hand, when you pay for someone to develop something for you, typically you do get the source code. Without copyright, that implies rights to use and modify the code for the client’s use, and nothing else. And that’s not too one-sided even in a low-value arrangement.

Is there a reason the developer doesn’t want to share the code? Is he worried about your other friend sharing or selling the source?

Maybe stepping in with a written agreement that clarifies those points would be enough to make both sides happy? The developer gets assurance in writing the code won’t be distributed/sold, and the other friend gets his source.

There is a common acceptance that copyright remains with the creator or the work.

Some contracts specify that the copyright and source code will pass to the client on full and final payment.

If your contract didn’t include that, then further negotiations may be necessary. If he won’t part with the source code without a large stipend, you should have a local Better Business Bureau that can advise on local laws and your rights.

Thanks for the replies very interesting. My developer is pleased with me for “standing up for the code” and not handing it over. There is a very real possibility that my friend will use another developer for further developments of the air app and he told me as much so that is as good as reason as any for standing up for the developers rights.
It gets even more complicated because I actually used another person to do the flash animation work on the app and I haven’t handed those over either. Thanks again.

There isn’t a contract because I just did this a a favour for a friend. Anyway he has accepted that he got it for a very cheap price and the source stays with us so all solved now. Cheers

Bottom line, who gets the source code should have been discussed up-front. Even if the client didn’t bring it up, you should have. If they wanted the source code, the price usually goes up.

Also, a backhanded trick is to condense and obscurify the code (ie, put it all on one line by getting rid of spaces and returns and give any variables generic names ie, $a $b $c)

This way even if you hand it over to them they wont’ be able to do much with it without MAJOR rework.