Re: Re[2]: Web site vs. Web designer

From: <ArborLaw[_at_]>
Date: Fri, 13 Sep 1996 19:03:33 -0400

Steve asks, for the following fact situation:
> Development of a very involved application geared to the
> Internet Service Provider, tracking subscribers, perform
> billing, create files for Credit Card and Electronic Check
> processors, etc... There is a contract in place which specifies
> various amounts to be paid. No money has been paid for
> development, and the client has since filed Chapter 11.
> Question: Who legally owns the application?

Where there's no collaboration in creation, no written agreement, the fact pattern doesn't fit the work-for-hire test (the author is legally a contractor and not an employee), the author still owns the copyright, period. Even IF money were paid for development. You can pay for the creation of something and not end up owning the copyright. It's unrelated (although this is the most common mistake in assumptions made by parties contracting for software or artwork).

You didn't mention whether there was collaboration. It sounds like customized work, which usually depends on client input or design. In many cases a joint copyright arises out of a project conceived, developed and implemented by a hiring party and an outside specialist working together. I can't emphasize enough, "depending heavily on facts." The determination of authorship or joint authorship is totally fact-dependent. Contributions to a work by more than one creative party need to be "inseparable" or "interdependent" and more or less need to be made at the same time, to make the joint authorship situation arise.

Carol Shepherd

   Carol Ruth Shepherd                          arborlaw[_at_]
                                             320 S Main Box 8403  
        business,                             Ann Arbor MI 48107 
 technology, entertainment                   +1 313 668 4646 tel   
    and new media law                        +1 313 663 9361 fax
==--====-==-=-=-==--=--====--=-=-=-====---===-=-=-====---===---= Received on Fri Sep 13 1996 - 23:04:24 GMT

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