[thelist] Charging for copyrights

Andy Budd andy at message.uk.com
Tue Aug 5 03:48:48 CDT 2003

Ed McCarroll wrote:

> I usually work on a "work for hire" basis; my client owns nearly
> all rights to everything.  I do have a "snippet clause" that allows
> me to re-use code, and have amended it on occaisions to preclude my
> doing so in works for competing companies.

I don't know where you're based, but if you're in the UK and work as a 
freelancer for another agency, you own the copyright to everything you 
create, not the agency. However many of the larger agencies will 
require you to sign over copyright to them.

Selling/handing over copyright is all about the value of that copyright 
to you and you're business. If you don't need to retain copyright (for 
instance so that you can reuse chunks of code) or are happy that your 
client can do whatever they want with the thing you've created for them 
(including selling it on to people at a profit) then go for it.

However we use some freelance work and understand that we don't own the 
copyright of anything they create for us (and wouldn't expect to). We 
also use third party scripts (like mail scripts, BB's etc) which we 
don't own either. We reuse scripts on all our projects so don't really 
have the ability to sell the copyright of these bits.

Also if somebody came to us and asked for something very similar to 
something we've done before, we want to retain the ability to repurpose 
the code. For instance, if we develop a game for a client, we want to 
retain the copyright on the game engine, even if we don't own the 
copyright to the appearance of the game.

Finally If we create a design for a site we don't really want the 
organizations using that very same design for other sites without our 
permission. This happened to us once before where we created a design 
for one site only to find the end client had built another, completely 
different site, using exactly the same design. Unfortunately the people 
they got to do it made a real hash of the job but it actually still 
looked like it was something we did. Not a good situation. Because we 
had good relations with that client we politely explained the problem 
and they were fine with it. However if you don't own copyright you 
basically are signing all your right's/interests away.

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