I've been a freelance web developer for 6 years. I have an issue that's bothering me and I'd like some advice. (Do note: I want advice from experienced freelance developers, or people who have been in these situations before and can speak from experience, not from people who are just guessing...)
I've worked for a few years for Client A, and developed web app for them. Now I have a new client, Client B, and I'm developing a web app for them.
Over the years, I've developed many general-purpose tools that I've used for Client A. Thankfully, most of them are in a separate open-source repo, and I've developed them on my own time. But, some tools are on Client A's repo and legally are the IP of Client A. They're not specific to that client's app, but are generic (like tools for handling times and date, url manipulating tools, etc.)
Now, as I've started work on Client B's code, I copied all the tools and I've been using them for Client B's project. I know it's illegal since they belong to Client A, but I'm wondering how much of a big deal it is. I'm asking not for the sake of these 2 clients, who are small non-technology companies who are unlikely to care or even know, but for similar situation in the future of my consulting career.
I considered asking Client A to open-source the tools, but I rather not. I'm the company's only developer, and a request like that might seem suspicious to the CEO. From the CEO's point-of-view, he has (1) little understanding of the situation and (2) something to lose and (3) nothing to gain and (4) a lot of important things to work on that are critical to the company.
I'd like your advice, especially hearing what you did in such situations and whether it turned into a problem in practice.