Questions about legal problems which may arise during software development or questions about software law, patents and copyrights in general.

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86
votes
16answers
5k views

Regulation of the software industry [closed]

Every few years someone proposes tighter regulation for the software industry. This IEEE article has been getting some attention lately on the subject. If software engineers who write programs ...
1
vote
2answers
1k views

Can a client sue you for “broken” software if you're a contractor paid hourly? [closed]

I've been working for a client for over a year and a half at an hourly rate. He's been pretty happy with the work thus far, and he has paid all invoices without objection, but his business has ...
3
votes
1answer
353 views

How to deal with the MPL in a pragmatic way?

Until recently I always avoided the use of open-source code in my applications, because of the legal headache it gives me. I rather spent a fair amount of money and not worry about attribution (since ...
20
votes
6answers
3k views

Is it legal to reuse code in other customers' projects?

I'm working as a independent software developer for mobile applications. A customer asks me to develop a mobile app. So at the moment I'm calculating the time and effort to write an offer for this ...
4
votes
2answers
325 views

Is it OK to include another person's open-source module in a project that you are uploading to GitHub?

This seems like it would be an obvious "yes". However, I just want to be sure and I've tried googling around to no avail. I am learning Python/Django and uploading all of the projects I'm creating to ...
3
votes
3answers
256 views

Software licenses in practice

Almost all questions and information on both SO and "Google" describes how different licenses works and what license to choose for your work? But how do they work in reality. Almost everyone I have ...
44
votes
19answers
4k views

Form screenshot for legal proof of clicking one of the checkboxes?

We got a request from one of our customers, and since I've never encountered such a request before, I don't even know where to start looking. Our customer is a network of colleges, and we're building ...
10
votes
5answers
2k views

Do I really need a disclaimer for free software?

If I publish some software on my website which can be downloaded and used free of charge, do I still need a disclaimer? I mean, I am not even selling anything, there is no contract, so why should ...
7
votes
4answers
457 views

Where can I find a legal “permission to work on open source” document?

One of the things I really like about my current job is that we developers are encouraged to make open source contributions. However, this encouragement has always been verbal. I've read some horror ...
24
votes
3answers
12k views

Copyright statements in source code [closed]

Ever since I started programming I've seen a header at the top of most code files indicating some sort of copyright: e.g. /* Copyright (c) 1998 Innotech */ or /* Copyright (c) 1998-2008 Innotech ...
5
votes
4answers
759 views

Is it legal or ethical for me to use my previous employer's code in a new project?

I participated and wrote a large amount of code in a project which my current company outsourcing to my former company last year. After that I left my former company and recently join in my current ...
8
votes
4answers
391 views

On the frontier between work and home

I think we've all been there: You hear of someone say "hey, wouldn't it be nice if platform X had feature Y?" You look around (on SO!), the feature really doesn't exist, even though it probably would ...
2
votes
1answer
188 views

How should I license code written for a startup without a contract?

I wrote a fair amount of code for a startup, but I haven't signed a contract before doing so. The only document that I signed with them does not mention the fact that I have to pass the rights on the ...
2
votes
2answers
153 views

Rights and use of developed software [closed]

I have been working on a piece of software for a company, that they wish to resell. There was an mail-based agreement upon a flat hourly rate for my work, and eager me chose to accept a rather low ...
5
votes
4answers
1k views

Does one line of GPLed code make program a “derived work”?

I've recently run into some argument with a person that claims to be a lawyer (I have my suspicions about this not being completely true, though). As far as I know, copying even one line of code from ...
22
votes
11answers
1k views

Should I accept to write unsecure code if my employer requests me to do so? [closed]

My employer asked me to implement a feature that would require storing passwords in clear text in a database (or using an obscure encrypt/decrypt function stored in a binary, which is a bit better, ...
4
votes
3answers
1k views

Is donationware non-commercial?

I use quite some "non-commercial" applications when working on software projects. For clarification, I mean developing applications here, for example smartgit, not libraries or anything that gets ...
5
votes
3answers
266 views

How does one minimize or prevent User lawsuits?

I work in a bunch of tools that do things to customer's computers. Some of these tools allow scripting, which allows someone to run a script to nuke files, registry keys, or the like. Of course, if ...
2
votes
2answers
691 views

Would I be in violation of these icons free license on my Android application?

Since there isn't yet a Q&A site for legal issues and since this is related to an Android app, I'm posting it here, instead of Stack Overflow cause this is not code related. I want to separate ...
25
votes
14answers
3k views

I'm a contract developer and I think I'm about to get screwed [closed]

I do contract development on the side. You could say that I'm a contract developer? Considering I've only ever had one client I'd say that's not exactly the truth - more like I took a side job and ...
49
votes
13answers
2k views

Is it legal to recreate/opensource a program that you previously coded for another company

At my previous job I created a generic dashboard for automating tasks and it that turned out to be quite useful - and of course my previous employer owns all the code I wrote while I worked there. Now ...
2
votes
1answer
212 views

Can Google search results be reused?

I am trying to develop an application much like a search engine and I will like to use Google search results and refactor them in my application. Can I re-issue Google search results my own way and ...
47
votes
10answers
8k views

Legal issues with an NDA that I do not want to sign [closed]

I've been given a non-disclosure agreement (NDA) to sign by my current employer that I do not want to sign. It is incredibly open ended and I feel that it should have been a condition of my initial ...
-1
votes
6answers
301 views

Who owns this work? [closed]

I worked for a small company as a long term contractor making websites and other such things. A client comes along, pays what he said was "A lot of money" for me to spend a week doing his website. ...
2
votes
2answers
243 views

Do I still own accreditation of work despite not owning copyright?

I completed some work at University for a website design. I understand that unless I request IP from the University they own full rights to the design. The clause is stated as below: 18.1 All ...
1
vote
3answers
254 views

What's happens if I develop a program taking inspiration from another GNU GPL application?

My friend and I are planning to develop a tiny and simple CMS by taking some inspirations from an already existing GNU GPL CMS. We take the ideas and try to develop it as simply we can, is it ...
0
votes
4answers
340 views

Is it possible to make something open-source without publishing it?

I've been working on some piece of software while being "employed" by company A. I now want to continue working on the same software while being employed by company B. Company B wants the software to ...
2
votes
1answer
263 views

Anyone experienced in Gaming/Gambling industry? [on hold]

Are there any legal hassles when you work in these Casino kinds of industry? I'm offered a job and I like it owing to clever algorithms and multi-threaded enviornment. I'd like some advice on legal ...
8
votes
10answers
748 views

Legal proof of when a feature been implemented

For various reasons I need to supply "proof" my company's lawyer that I implemented a feature by a certain date. I have used source control since the late 90s and even the oldest databases are still ...
13
votes
3answers
1k views

As a contractor, am I liable for bugs? (Do I need Liability Insurance?) [closed]

I've got a neighbor who has been trying to sell me insurance for my side business. His claim is that I could be sued by my clients if the software I produce does not perform properly or has bugs in ...
5
votes
3answers
267 views

What level of threat does selling an app on an app store present to a non-US company?

Can anyone point me to an article or an informed discussion about US software patents affecting a non-US company who is selling their products on an American app store/marketplace? My company has ...
5
votes
1answer
349 views

Who is responsible for doing a patent search?

If a client requests that a particular feature is added into their website software, who is responsible for searching and recognising that a patent royalty has to paid? client web developer This ...
10
votes
9answers
2k views

Legality/Ethics of crawling a site to basically copy its database? [closed]

A potential freelance client wants a copy of all the phone numbers in an entire country of several million people in CSV format for their telemarketing system. They have sent me a link to an online ...
1
vote
7answers
2k views

What part of your work does a company own when you program for them? [closed]

Say you're a software engineer, what does the company actually own of your work? Do they own the source code, the binary, both? What about code you do outside of the workplace? Do they have any claim ...
0
votes
1answer
172 views

Who would be responsive for damage caused after cloning foreign application but NOT running it as freelancer?

This is just theoretical question, without context. In case somebody hire me (as freelancer (I'm A1)) client (A2) wants to develop CLONE of an existing application from B1 company after some time ...
0
votes
3answers
212 views

When developing a plugin or a standalone software app can I include in its name the name of the host application?

I am making a commercial software product and I want to publish it soon. In my product title can I have words like Photoshop, Visual Studio, Delphi, etc? For example, a full name would be something ...
2
votes
2answers
426 views

Storing T&C acceptance in database - best practice

I wondered if anyone could advise on the best way of storing a users acceptance of the Terms and Conditions in the database. I am in the UK if this changes anything. I have had the T&Cs drawn up ...
7
votes
3answers
437 views

For very short programming jobs, how should one approach the concept of a contract? [closed]

I am wondering what other contractors in the field of software development do when a potential client approaches them with a spec.. in terms of contracts. In my experience, clients will often be happy ...
9
votes
2answers
5k views

Java: legal issues related to writing a commercial app in Java [closed]

I developed scientific software for use in my own scientific research. I am considering porting it to another language such as Java, and releasing a closed-source, commercial version of it for sale. ...
2
votes
3answers
1k views

Do we need a non-disclosure agreement (NDA)?

We're going to meet a potential new client today and between ourselves started discussing the need for a non-disclosure agreement (NDA) and whether we need one at this juncture. In this case we ...
2
votes
6answers
1k views

Is Tracking Software Usage Illegal? [closed]

Let's say if I am doing desktop application, and I am interested to know whether our software really gets used or not. Is it alright to insert in code that tracks whether our software is used, for how ...
1
vote
1answer
122 views

How can proprietary code be protected when collaborating with an external company?

Imagine I have a code base and I'm obsessively concerned about the protection and privacy of that code. If I were to hire a freelancer to work on that code base, I'd probably have the freelancer sign ...
0
votes
1answer
180 views

How to give life to my idea which belong to my company?

I wonder, what options do I have in the following situation. In the course of the several projects I realised the need in some auxilary software product (related to testing of the main products). I ...
1
vote
1answer
349 views

Legal concern over “borrowed” code

A company my friend works for (let's call him Me) recently unveiled a new face for their internal "networking" website. This new face looks remarkably like Facebook, and indeed, examination of the ...
0
votes
2answers
109 views

Question about the no-endorsment clause on the BSD license

I'm developing a non-free library and I want to use Bcrypt.Net in it. The clause in question: Neither the name of BCrypt.Net nor the names of its contributors may be used to endorse or promote ...
6
votes
5answers
218 views

Can I use the test suite from an open source project to verify that my own 'compatible library' is compatible?

The question Is it illegal to rewrite every line of an open source project in a slightly different way, and use it in a closed source project? makes me wonder what would be considered a clean-room ...
12
votes
11answers
2k views

Do I own copyright of program I made in own time? [closed]

I created a software package that aids electrical engineers with common calculations used on site (substations to be specific). I created the package in my own time, without being asked and without ...
3
votes
4answers
649 views

Selling an open source project: some issues [on hold]

I am the creator / main developer of a small sized open source (PHP) project (GPL3). Currently there is a development team of 3 people (me included). This team has been quite active for some time, but ...
2
votes
3answers
514 views

Charging for Open-Source

Is it viable to charge for an open-source product? Both legally and financially, it seems like a very strange thing to do. However, I keep hearing people say that it's possible. Are there even any ...
10
votes
10answers
1k views

Giving employer power of attorney to obtain your inventions

Is it normal/just for a software company to ask for power of attorney to ensure they obtain patents on anything you invent while you are employed as a programmer? Update: In my case, I went back ...