Work-for-hire question

Subject: Work-for-hire question
From: "Dick Margulis " <margulis -at- mail -dot- fiam -dot- net>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Fri, 18 Jul 2003 13:09:06 -0400

I was just thrown a curve ball that I don't have a ready answer for (shocking, I know).

We have a large customer who is paying us to do some major customization of our software for them, prepare documentation, do training, implementation, etc. This is still OUR software that we license to the customer, but there is some exclusivity involved. Naturally there is a mutual nondisclosure agreement; there is customer-proprietary information; etc.

The question that arose concerns the documentation. One of the customer's reviewers, looking at a draft, took issue with our copyright notice and wondered if the copyright ought not belong to the customer.

Before I respond, anyone run into something similar and have any experience to share?

My assumption, which I will be happy to have confirmed or disconfirmed, is that the intellectual property we develop belongs to us and that while we may license the customer to copy and circulate the material internally, we do not give the customer the right to disseminate the information elsewhere. I think this situation arises frequently in consulting companies and, as far as I am aware, the consultants always retain copyright.

Thanks for any input,



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