I have an ongoing relationship with an ad agency who subcontracts me to develop Wordpress sites for their clients. The design is provided by the agency. These are individual one-off projects for a specific client. But lately, they’ve started re-using the themes for other clients’ sites by hiring a cheaper/junior developer to install the theme and change the colors and logos and maybe move a few elements around, but it’s essentially the same site. (I didn’t build them as re-usable themes, so they’re just editing the stylesheet and some of the template code.)
I’m not sure if I should have a problem with this or not. They hired me to do a job, I charged them for the time it took to do the job, and I got paid. End of story. They now own the product at that point and can do what they want with it, no?
But yet… it seems kinda sketchy, because they’re getting a LOT more value out of the product I created than what they were initially charged for.
What do you think? How do you handle this situation?
What does your contract say about re-use of sites (or parts thereof) you’ve delivered?
It doesn’t – it says they own the product and assets once the project is complete. What I’m wondering is if I should revise my contract to account for this in future work. I haven’t had the issue before so I hadn’t considered the nuance. Maybe it’s correct that they can do whatever they want after you hand over the project. I’m hoping to get input on whether there is a standard here.
As said, it depends on the contract.
The way that websites work make it easy for things like styles to be reused, even by anyone capable of viewing pages. Most websites are developed with source code that is not compiled. One advantage of compiling is that it makes it difficult to reuse the code.
The term Job Protection is relevant here. One reason to develop the code without the ability to reuse it is Job Protection. Instead of resisting the reuse of your work, you can make your code reusable. Since you are so good at what you do, you should not mind making the code reusable. Then sell the software with the requirement that it cannot be used by any person or organization outside of the customer but the customer should have unlimited rights to it. Something like that. Some software is sold with per-user licenses but that probably is not relevant here.
You are a fantastic developer, adjust your business accordingly.
Thank you. I actually don’t mind the re-use of my code – I don’t feel any particular ownership of it. I re-use parts of my own code all the time when starting new sites. But I do want to make sure I’m being smart about it, business-wise.
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