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I am wondering if it is possible to copyright a piece of software under 2 separate entities, allowing both entities full right do whatever they want with the software while not allowing one of the entities to be able to revoke privileges to the other?

Basically I am working on a team, and not getting paid so it is not a paid for hire situation, and I am probably going to be building a web platform system from scratch in C#. I want to be able to make sure that in the event the team breaks up or I kicked off the team that I will still be able to continue work on the web platform system without any legal issues. It is not that I don't trust the team as I do, but life has taught me to always cover my own ass.

Would a better way to handle this be to copyright the code under my name and then just give the team a license to use the code however they see fit?

I also know that any advice I receive here is most likely not from a lawyer and even if it is, any advice given may not be 100% accurate according to the law.

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Why aren't you getting paid? There's likely some background there that might be relevant. –  David Thornley Apr 7 '11 at 21:40
    
Because we currently don't have any funding. –  ryanzec Apr 7 '11 at 23:29

2 Answers 2

up vote 2 down vote accepted

My first thought is that, if you are concerned about this, you should consult a lawyer. It should be possible to get general advice without it costing too much (if anything) and you'd know whether it was worth pursuing the legal avenue.

Having said that, I would have thought that if you licence your code non exclusively to the team then you've got it covered. You still have the copyright on code and can carry on working on it without them.

Make sure you (and the team) are clear about what's your code and what their's.

This might lead to feelings of distrust though - so be careful how you broach the subject.

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What you're talking about is called a Joint Copyright Assigment, which is a very common agreement for open source contributors to sign (so that a single entity can retain the ability to relicense, etc.). Here's the OpenOffice.org JCA for instance. SharpDevelop also has a JCA which is a lot easier to read. :)

In a JCA you usually agree that both of you share the copyright, so you both have full rights (within the terms of the agreement, of course).

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