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    Angry Legal Rights to Developed Website!?!?!


    Someone please assist me. I worked for an employer and i parted ways, under good terms, the employer happened to be a friend of mine and i found a better paying job. While working for this employer I created a website for his business and posted it on my web host where i have my personal website, which he never paid me for.

    I offered, after leaving, to maintain the website for a very low monthly fee just to help out. My former employer informed me that he wanted me to give him the website file and the software. I informed him i owned the software and that he would need to buy it. He stated fine, then just give me the website file and show me how to add "stuff". Mind you no one in the company has Webdeveloping experience or IT experience, to sit down and show someone how to add "stuff" would be a nightmare and frankly I do not have the time, nor the patience.

    My dilema is, do I have any rights to the site i created? I do not want to be a jerk and ruin our friendship but i feel slighted spending a great deal of time creating the site and not being paid for it and he now wants me to just turn it over to him. My first thought is to just burn the files to a disk, give him the name of the software, and let him know he has until the end of the month to move the website to his webhost, he used Go Daddy before.

    Suggestions or advice?
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    (I Am Not A Lawyer)

    Is there any contract? What was the agreement related to the delivery and the payment?

    AFAIK, if he haven't paid anything (and there is no contract), he shouldn't have any rights to get a handover of what you created.

    About keeping the friendship - It is only you who can decide what should happen here.
    If you want to give him what you have created to keep the friendship, then no one is stopping you to do that.
    If you don't have time to explain/teach them how to add "stuff", then tell that to your friend.
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    While working for this employer I created a website for his business
    In this case there is a very good chance that you don't actually own the rights to the site. If you create something for your employer it is usually considered to be a "work for hire", which means that your employer, not you, own the rights to whatever you create. In this situation the employer does not need to pay you anything extra to buy the rights to the software, and you are legally obligated to provide them with the source.

    The contract governing this is going to be your employment contract, not a separate contract for the work (unless one existed, which it sounds like it did not).

    You are probably not obligated to provide him with training. Perhaps you could negotiate an hourly rate to provide him or his employees with training on the site.

    I wouldn't push it with the actual code though, he probably legally owns it already.

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    Originally Posted by MrFujin
    Is there any contract? What was the agreement related to the delivery and the payment?
    The first place to look is the agreement he signed when agreeing to the terms of employment. As E-Oreo points out it is likely this falls under work for hire even if it was done as a side project. There is likely language (along with non-disclosure legalese and such) in the document signed prior to beginning employment which may spell this out.
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    I'm w/ E-Oreo on this. I'm not a lawyer, but worked for one for 3 years (a person who previously clerked for the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court), so I know my way around contract law pretty darn well.

    I would assume at this point that your former employer owns the site. I'd pass over the code to this ASAP; just burn a DVD and be done with it. In addition to erring on the side of caution, it'll also be a weight lifted off of your mind, and might work to smooth things over w/ your employer / friend.

    I'll reinforce what E-Oreo and 'lint stated, in that there may be an opportunity to get some additional billable hours through training the former employer on usage of the software, installing it on their new host, etc. Since you wrote the code and know it best, and it seems likely that at some point down the road the employer might come to you and ask you to "fix a bug" or "add another webpage" or "change these 5 fields on this form to these 7 fields", I would strongly suggest putting a support contract in place, or letting the employer/friend know that, if they're not interested in going the contract route up front, you'll be able to provide Incident resolution and minor Change management, but will charge per Incident (probably a fixed rate) and per hour for Changes.

    Hope that helps.
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    As far as the website goes, you can offer to take it down or if he wants the website you should offer to sell it to him. Say something like "I don't want to leave you hanging so how about I just sell you the website and set it up on your server for $x,xxx?" Then tell him that he would be unable to make changes because of the skill required to do so and that you would do it for him for $xxx/mo./change.
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    If you did it as part of your job he would have rights to the files. As for the software thats not your concern. Also teaching someone to edit the coding that is not your concern. If he would like to pay you to teach a member of his staff to do it then you could provide training to his employees for a fee.

    But as far as it goes anything you written for him as part as your job is rightly his as it was mentioned above. Also if there is written proof of any other terms of payment for the work then sadly not much else can be done.
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    Originally Posted by RSTING69
    i feel slighted spending a great deal of time creating the site and not being paid for it and he now wants me to just turn it over to him.
    Was making the site part of your employment ? Or was it a gift? Either way I say burn a copy to disc and when you give it to him mention the software you used to create it, and let him know the cost for you to do software training.

    It's just good karma to do this, and there's really nothing for you to gain by not.

    Keep the copy = lose the friend
    Give a copy = keep the friend

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