Work-for-hire question?

Subject: Work-for-hire question?
From: "Hart, Geoff" <Geoff-H -at- MTL -dot- FERIC -dot- CA>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Fri, 18 Jul 2003 13:17:28 -0400

Dick Margulis wonders: <<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... 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.>>

Copyright remains yours until you specifically transfer some or all of your
rights to someone else. If that's not part of the contract, then the
copyright notice should still be yours. If you do choose to transfer some of
your rights, the contract should clearly specify what responsibilities the
new owner takes on; for example, if they decide to modify your
documentation, make it clear in the contract that they take on complete
responsibility for any problems (e.g., lawsuits) related to the

<<My assumption... 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.>>

That's the smartest way to handle it until someone decides there's a
material advantage to your company to give someone else free rights to your
intellectual property. There's gold in them there manuals, and you don't
want anyone else mining that gold without at least giving you a percentage.

--Geoff Hart, geoff-h -at- mtl -dot- feric -dot- ca
(try ghart -at- videotron -dot- ca if you get no response)
Forest Engineering Research Institute of Canada
580 boul. St-Jean
Pointe-Claire, Que., H9R 3J9 Canada

"Wisdom is one of the few things that look bigger the further away it
is."--Terry Pratchett


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