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Ask Slashdot: What To Do When Another Dev Steals Your Work and Adds Their Name? 480

Posted by samzenpus
from the all-due-credit dept.
An anonymous reader writes "I have had an interesting situation arise where I built some web apps for a client about 2 years ago. I have no longer been working with the client and a new developer has taken over purely for maintenance work. Currently I have been looking for new work and have used the said apps as part of my portfolio. During one interview I was informed that I not telling the truth about building the apps and I was then shown the source of a few JS files. It seems the new developer had put a copyright header on them, removed my name as the author and put his own. Now this is grey territory as it the client who owns the source, not the contracting developer. It put me on my back foot and I had to start explaining to interviewers that the developer stole the work and branded it. I feel it makes me look like a fool, having to defend my position in an interview with a possible client and I feel I had lost the chance of directing the outcome of the interview. I have cut the apps from my portfolio, however they are some of my best work and a real testament to my skills. I decided to cut my loss and move on, I am not looking for a fight or any unnecessary heartache. So what you do in my situation?"
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Ask Slashdot: What To Do When Another Dev Steals Your Work and Adds Their Name?

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday June 09, 2013 @10:41AM (#43952399)
    They shall all drown in lakes of blood. Now they will know why they are afraid of the dark. Now they will learn why they fear the night.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward
      Damnit, this is not off-topic, it's a quote of Thulsa Doom from the original Conan the Barbarian, or are you kiddies all too young to remember that?
    • Re:Infidel defilers. (Score:5, Informative)

      by jellomizer (103300) on Sunday June 09, 2013 @04:56PM (#43955033)

      The first step is easy.

      Call up the Company that you worked for and ask that some of your credit should be on that set of public code.

      Try to give people a chance to do the right thing, before you jump and rant and rave like an idiot.

    • by SimonInOz (579741) on Monday June 10, 2013 @07:26AM (#43959637)

      This is probably common. I have had a similar thing happen - I wrote a system for a major bank in Java/JSP, and they ran it for a bit. Then they copied it (line for line, I saw the code) into C#/ASP and did some minor updates. They then claimed it as their own, and stopped paying the support fee.

      Given they were the biggest customer of the company I worked for, there was nothing to be done. Oh joy.

      I share your pain.

  • by decora (1710862) on Sunday June 09, 2013 @10:44AM (#43952413) Journal

    the sco trial is over man. you just had a bad dream, that's all.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday June 09, 2013 @10:44AM (#43952423)

    summarizing the work you did, and identifying you as the original author of the code.

    This isn't hard. Yahoo career advice stuff.

  • by Anrego (830717) * on Sunday June 09, 2013 @10:46AM (#43952437)

    That sounds like a shitty situation, my condolences :(

    I suspect the lawyer route is probably a bad idea, but I'd be really curious what a lawyer would have to say on the subject (at least here in Canada we have "moral" rights that dictate among other things an authors ownership of his work (even when it's "work for hire").

    • Re:I got nothing (Score:5, Informative)

      by similar_name (1164087) on Sunday June 09, 2013 @11:13AM (#43952671)
      In the U.S. [copyright.gov]

      In cases of works made for hire, the employer or commissioning party is considered to be the author

      • by Nerdfest (867930) on Sunday June 09, 2013 @11:17AM (#43952697)

        Well, there's only one answer then. He needs to have him killed. It's probably cheaper than hiring a lawyer anyway.

        • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

          by Anonymous Coward

          Interestingly enough, the new developer is technically stealing from the client. If he is taking the code and claiming it is his own, that is copyright infringement too. If anything I would let the client's legal or other department know that their new guy is stealing from them. If it works, its the best of both worlds, thief gets punished and you aren't the one who has to get him.

        • by Xyrus (755017) on Sunday June 09, 2013 @01:42PM (#43953771) Journal

          Well, there's only one answer then. He needs to have him killed. It's probably cheaper than hiring a lawyer anyway.

          An assassin is merciful. He/she will only deprive you of your life. A lawyer shows no such mercy and will kill you slowly over a number of years while destroying everything around you that you hold dear.

      • If whomever hired him is the copyright owner, then the new maintanier should not place his own name on the work; it's not his intelectual property.

        His best shot is contacting the person who hired him to do the job in the first place, and informing him of the situation.

      • Re:I got nothing (Score:5, Interesting)

        by cob666 (656740) on Sunday June 09, 2013 @11:50AM (#43952967) Homepage

        In cases of works made for hire, the employer or commissioning party is considered to be the author

        Really depends on your contract. My standard contract clearly states that I retain all copyright to my code. If the client is paying for source code and not a finished product then I assign them a perpetual non transferrable right to use and modify the code provided that they attribute my original copyright.

  • by Shavano (2541114) on Sunday June 09, 2013 @10:46AM (#43952439)

    ...and inform them of the unethical behavior of the new developer, the situation it put you in and how shocked you were to find that they had deprived you of the opportunity to take credit for your work. Somebody at that company hired you and knows what truly happened. Hopefully that person is in a position to put the situation right and give you the credit you are due.

    That said, relying on your code being still accessible after you have left it for a while is not a situation you want to be in. Your former clients can take that code down and replace it any time they want, with anything they want. You should have checked to see the status of that code yourself shortly before you tried to present it as an example of your work.

    • by multimediavt (965608) on Sunday June 09, 2013 @10:54AM (#43952525)

      ...and inform them of the unethical behavior of the new developer, the situation it put you in and how shocked you were to find that they had deprived you of the opportunity to take credit for your work. Somebody at that company hired you and knows what truly happened. Hopefully that person is in a position to put the situation right and give you the credit you are due.

      That said, relying on your code being still accessible after you have left it for a while is not a situation you want to be in. Your former clients can take that code down and replace it any time they want, with anything they want. You should have checked to see the status of that code yourself shortly before you tried to present it as an example of your work.

      I agree with most of what you said and I would add that I would explain to the client that the actions of their new developer have put them in an actionable (take you to court) position as well as the new developer that is clearly in deep to the count of fraud and copyright violation. You need to speak with a copyright lawyer, pronto, to understand what your options actually are. I know you're not looking for a fight, but it seems one that's worth fighting has found you. As a developer the most important thing to you is your code. If someone is stealing that and claiming it as their own they are burying you if you don't fight. I assure you if the places were reversed you'd be hearing from a lawyer.

      • This. Imagine if it was a painting, photo or movie someone created and sold, just because it's sold does not mean new owner can erase the name of the painter, director, photographer, etc and put whatever name they want on there.
        • They can if they own the code:

          Now this is grey territory as it the client who owns the source, not the contracting developer.

      • by Shavano (2541114)
        No, the client owns the code unless the original developer had an agreement with them that stated otherwise. They can do what they want with it, including removing credits to the original developer and crediting it to their new maintainer. To do so is unethical. IMO, but it isn't illegal.
        • That is incorrect. You always own the source unless you are providing work for hire. Eg. a photographer owns the photos even if the were shot for a company.

          • by Lunix Nutcase (1092239) on Sunday June 09, 2013 @11:18AM (#43952705)

            Did you bother to read the summary?

            Now this is grey territory as it the client who owns the source, not the contracting developer.

            Sounds like a pretty typical work-for-hire.

          • by Shavano (2541114)

            IANAL, but in most such relationships and in the absence of an explicit agreement the courts seem to presume that whoever is paying for the work automatically becomes the holder of copyright, regardless of the authorship. If you own the copyright, you can use, modify and re-publish the work in its entirety or any portion of it. In such a case, it would be completely legal to re-publish it without attribution to its original creator. Once the code has been developed, the whole thing is out of your control

      • by JaredOfEuropa (526365) on Sunday June 09, 2013 @11:51AM (#43952975) Journal
        The guy doesn't need copyright (which he probably doesn't even have in this case), he just needs credit for his work. I'd be very careful to even mention the word "legal" or "copyright". Imagine that you, as a manager or an employer, get a phone call about disputed copyright on a bit of software you had done way back when. What do you do? That's right, you refer the matter to your lawyer/legal department. Nothing good will come of that.

        If you parted ways with your former employer on good terms, just call them and ask they they would mind giving you a nice written reference, specifically mentioning your contribution to that software.
        • by KWTm (808824) on Sunday June 09, 2013 @12:12PM (#43953137) Journal

          Agree: this is more about credit than about copyright.

          If you had built a bridge for your city, you should be able to list that as one of your accomplishments. It does not mean that you can walk off with the bridge. At the same time, you'd be perfectly justified in getting pissed off if someone else said that it was they, not you, who had built it.

      • by Capt.Albatross (1301561) on Sunday June 09, 2013 @01:54PM (#43953851)

        ...explain to the client that the actions of their new developer have put them in an actionable (take you to court) position

        I would avoid any hint of an adversarial position between you and the company unless one already exists. Instead, see if you can get a reference that includes a statement that you developed the code in question.

  • Wayback machine? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by johnnys (592333) on Sunday June 09, 2013 @10:46AM (#43952451)
    Would the wayback machine or something similar be able to retrieve the originals? Or, could you get a signed letter from the original client that this was your work? Then you could talk to a lawyer about copyright infringement.

    If the original client won't cooperate, perhaps you could send a DMCA takedown notice asserting your ownership of the copyright for the original digital content.

    • by 54mc (897170)

      If the original client won't cooperate, perhaps you could send a DMCA takedown notice asserting your ownership of the copyright for the original digital content.

      Unfortunately, this is almost certainly not an option. From TFS:

      Now this is grey territory as it the client who owns the source, not the contracting developer.

    • Did you even bother to read the summary?

      Now this is grey territory as it the client who owns the source, not the contracting developer.

      If the client owns the code then they own the copyright and they can do as they like.

  • Get a referral ... (Score:5, Informative)

    by MacTO (1161105) on Sunday June 09, 2013 @10:47AM (#43952453)

    Get a referral from the company.

    If the copyright message is pointing to the maintainer rather than the company, you may want to point it out to the company since the new developer may be trying to claim ownership of the code (or may simply be naive).

    • Get a referral from the company.

      If the copyright message is pointing to the maintainer rather than the company, you may want to point it out to the company since the new developer may be trying to claim ownership of the code (or may simply be naive).

      Yeah, that's the right path but it's probably too late.

      What the OP should have done - ethically and legally - is obtain permission from the previous client before applying for new jobs. That way he's done the right thing to start with. And if an unforeseen circumstance like this one or any other snag comes up, he can simply say "no problem, I can give you a contact name at the client I write this for. I've already spoken to them an have permission to use this code as a reference so I'm sure they'll be

    • by rickb928 (945187) on Sunday June 09, 2013 @12:08PM (#43953117) Homepage Journal

      How did this get modded funny?

      First issue; did you leave your employer on good or at least pleasant terms? If so, call them up. Ask first if they would offer a reference for the work you did. If so, excellent. Let your prospective employer break the news ot them that someone else just tried to take credit and more for the work. If not, well, they were never a very good reference. Dangerous ground there.

      Second, if you did leave on good terms, after this dust settles, a call to them may be order, to let them know the code has been commented in a way that seems inappropriate. You may find they allowed it.

      You'll want to negotiate rights to at least reference your work with future employers.

  • Smart move (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Hognoxious (631665) on Sunday June 09, 2013 @10:48AM (#43952471) Homepage Journal

    I have cut the apps from my portfolio

    Smart move. Because that doesn't look like an admission of guilt at all.

    Seriously, how difficult is it to prove that you were there before him?

  • by neonmonk (467567) on Sunday June 09, 2013 @10:48AM (#43952479)

    Inform them of what's happened. Get them to send you a written & signed confirmation that you are the original author.

  • I decided to cut my loss and move on, I am not looking for a fight or any unnecessary heartache.

    That's where you lost the battle. If this work is truly yours, there's usually a way to prove. I mean, I can read code and tell who dveloped it -- from the style. I mean, you could even point to older work you've done.

    I just don't understand how you can let a fella claim ownership to work that's truly yours. You could at least do half a SCO...I mean, at least attempt to sue the fella.

  • by Tasha26 (1613349) on Sunday June 09, 2013 @10:55AM (#43952535) Homepage
    Have you seen the movie "Flash of Genius"? Seems like you are in that same situation. The real inventor of the code can explain every nook and crannies of the code, why they did what, and the circumstances that made them program something in a certain way rather than another. The fake programmer will say he/she has amnesia. They won't be explain the thing from ground up or the particulars (exciting moments) of the programming adventure.
    • by PNutts (199112)

      Actually, it was "Working Girl" [imdb.com] (Harrison Ford, Melanie Griffith, Sigourney Weaver). Apparently Abraham stole it and put his name on it.

  • Now this is grey territory as it the client who owns the source, not the contracting developer.

    The original contract should have specified who owns the source code. If it specified the company, then while your name could be on it as the original author, it belongs to the company and they have the right to modify it and the copyright. If no ownership was specified, then the developer owns it and their changing of the copyright was improper.

    If indeed the company owns the copyright, did you have permission t

  • by digitalhermit (113459) on Sunday June 09, 2013 @10:56AM (#43952551) Homepage

    Pull the logs and other supporting information including client notes, change orders, SOWs, source code revision history, etc. and present it. . You can explain that it's a matter of principle that you're doing it because you value your good name. I think it's unlikely that you'll be retained by that company, but clearing it up may give the thief a bit of heat.

    It has happened to me while working at UPS. One of the admins there stole my training guides and put his name on them.

  • two things: (Score:4, Informative)

    by magic maverick (2615475) on Sunday June 09, 2013 @10:56AM (#43952553) Homepage Journal

    1) Write to the client and to the developer explaining that it's pretty shitty to remove the original author's name (and in some cases, in some places, illegal) from a work. Explain that you'd appreciate it if your name was put back as the original author.
    2) Keep the project in your profile, and if you get a negative or no response from the client and other dev, include a note saying that the other dev removed your name. And because you kept all the development files (you did, didn't you?), you can write in your profile that that in an interview you can show the progression of this project from start to end.

    In the future:
    * Always keep copies of files you have worked on (in a version control setup). (Especially useful if you keep the copyright. Reuse.)
    * Never sign over copyright if you can help it (give clients a license instead, make it BSD-like and they can still do whatever they want, except remove your name).
    * Include a clause in your contract (and you do have a contract before commencing work, don't you?) saying that the work can be included in your profile, along with a comment (praise or whatever) from the client. Link this comment to the client's website or contact details.
    * And in the rare situation that the client wants you to both hand over copyright, and not retain any of the code, then demand triple or more of your usual rate. Explain that this is to offset future loses from not being able to demonstrate your awesomeness. If they don't blink, you should have asked for ten times or more.

  • by pongo000 (97357) on Sunday June 09, 2013 @11:01AM (#43952581)

    The code you developed for your client was most likely never yours to begin with. Despite well-meaning suggestions made here, you really have no right to go back to the client and demand anything. Present the code as your own to prospective clients, explain the situation, and leave it at that.

    We all have fantasies of getting back at assholes like the one you described, but in the real world, you just need to take the high road and let it go. From the description you gave, it sounds like you're new to the game. Focus your creative energies on your work, not on vengeance. Your integrity and professionalism will remain intact, which is much more important than striking back at some perceived slight.

    • by PNutts (199112)

      The code you developed for your client was most likely never yours to begin with. Despite well-meaning suggestions made here, you really have no right to go back to the client and demand anything. Present the code as your own to prospective clients, explain the situation, and leave it at that.

      Thank you for saving me the time to create a response like yours and doing it better than I could have. I've sat on both sides of the table and if the situation was presented to me as you describe I wouldn't raise an eyebrow.

    • by Improv (2467)

      Ownership and authorship are not the same thing. He was the author of the work regardless of whom he wrote it for. Others are not entitled to claim authorship, even if they can claim ownership.

  • Owns that code since you did it for them. You could point out that if this new client uses that code they'd be in deep shit since it's basically stolen and you'd have no problem letting the old client know.(Since hopefully they could sick a pack of lawyers on people.)
  • You could enhance and refactor them so they not only differentiate from your earlier purloined version but also provide a better example. Then if the question comes up you can easily say he swiped an earlier version of my work.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday June 09, 2013 @11:11AM (#43952659)

    I just read about this case [geekwire.com] yesterday. Funny.

    One of the undercurrents in this whole thread is that we have no idea whether OP is telling the truth or not. There's a signficant chance s/he's jerking everyone around so s/he can forward this link to a hiring employer. How can we tell the difference? I think OP, if he's telling the truth, has to figure out what can prove they were the real author, besides the obvious of calling the client they did the work for (Duh!). That's something that can't be thought of from a one (long) paragraph summary.

  • by Fuzzums (250400) on Sunday June 09, 2013 @11:12AM (#43952667) Homepage

    It is what it is. You developed it.
    The software was that good that the company you worked for then finds your work good enough to continue developing it.
    You could ask that company for a testimonial to add to your resume.

  • Normally belongs to the company you work for, not the person who wrote it. It's not grey territory at all. If you find the author has been changed then the reason for change could be as simple as providing a means to get in touch with the person who is now maintaining it. If I'm amending code produced by someone else I normally add myself to any authors in the documentation, but occasionally the previous dev has not put any documentation in the code, so my boilerplate documentation may not mention the previ

  • Instead, replicate the work as best you can on your own servers. Heck, while you're at it, make those improvements you would have made after you wrote it originally.

    If it's not on my own infrastructure, it doesn't go on my resume.

  • 1. If you were an employee of the former company, show paystubs or Forms W2 showing dates prior to the copyright date.

    2. If you were an independent contractor on that work, show invoices.

    3. In the future, make copies of the source files. ZIP, Gzip, or otherwise combine them into a single file. Use an OpenPGP application to create a detached digital signature of that single file. Send the digital signature file to a time-stamping service such as pgp@stamper.itconsult.co.uk and save the result. All thi

  • Via say the wayback machine or if the client allows it key elements on a owned server. Otherwise the site will move on from what you developed.

  • It really sounds like they tried to confront you in a "Now I've Got You, You SOB!" style of transaction. If that is what happened, avoid doing business with that client, ever.

    If the client asked you what they should make of the copyright notices, that's one thing. If they immediately called you a "liar," that's another. If the latter is what happened, again, set them straight as to what happened, then don't ever talk to them again.
  • Get yourself a GitHub account and ensure that you keep your work there, When all else fails, the timestamps should prove to be your proof.
  • The main retort is to challenge the assertion and offer to answer low-level detailed questions about the design and the code. His main defense will be to claim the software is "confidential" so he doesn't have to talk about it in-depth. It is up to the interviewer to decide who s/he is more comfortable hiring. I once had the pure luxury of reading a resume from a contractor whom I had worked with briefly at a previous company. His resume took credit for MY WORK. Because the code is at the old place the
  • by Rhacman (1528815) on Sunday June 09, 2013 @11:49AM (#43952957)
    In the context of an interview the fact that the source was presented could be a perfect opportunity to demonstrate your knowledge of the code by offering to explain its operation and the design decisions that came about during development. Your skills are better proven in how you articulate your knowledge and ideas rather than just pointing to a name on a comment banner. A major lesson learned would be to expect this and to keep cool and not look flustered when someone tries to call you out on it. If you had an amicable relationship with this former employer you might even touch base with them ahead of time to ask if you can list them as a reference so they can corroborate your authorship.
    • by duguk (589689)
      This and absolutely this. If you have explained that you've worked on behalf of another company and that they have changed the author, and they don't believe you - then the trust has already broken down with your new potential employer. Cut your losses with the new employer, but keep the work on record - and in future explain the work you've done rather than relying on your name being in the code. If your new employer doesn't believe you now, and don't understand that this happens - why would you want to
  • No malice needed (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Antique Geekmeister (740220) on Sunday June 09, 2013 @12:26PM (#43953253)

    Simply putting up a copyright, and a name of the current maintainer, _corporate employee_ who is responsible for maintaining the software, is not a large offense where I work. If you did not sign it at all, it could even be unsurprising that a newer developer would do so, to provide a contact point for users of the software, especially if hte copyright is a corporate copyright and not a personal one. They may even think they modified it enough to deserve a new copyright (which can be very easy to do), even if some of the best core components are essentially unchanged.

    So there seems no need to start out heavy handed. Also, you're showing off in your interview that was done as a work for hire? Did you get permission from your former employer to display or share that work? Then you may be violating _their_ copyrights. So be safe: contact them, especially your old manager if you can find them, and ask for permission to show your old work, and see if you can cite them as a reference for doing that work.

    If the new developer is actually plagiarizing your work and re-copyrighting it for themselves personally, your old employer is the one being hurt by this. Then you may need to show some traceable source control or software backups to enforce the claim. And you may be able to get cooperation from supervisors or HR at your old workplace. It could be awfully hard to sue for damages in a situation like this,, especially if you don't have good evidence. But someone who is plagiarizing your work will probably plagiarize other work, and a good manager will appreciate a heads up from the original author. This has happened to me and my colleagues before, and will again. It may be too late for you to follow good source code control practices, but those can be invaluable not only to locate who write the code, but who _broke_ the code later.

    If you've got your evidence lined up, you might even be able to contact this developer directly and give them the opportunity to fix the situation. If they can provide a letter that says "this work was originally developed for Company A by _fill in your name_, and we're delighted with its performance.", I think you'd be in very good shape for the questions you w4ere asked.

  • by tarpitcod (822436) on Sunday June 09, 2013 @12:54PM (#43953467)

    Interviewer - "We checked the source code cited, and your name isn't on it?"
    You - "Thanks for checking the source code, that was work for hire, so it's owned by the company I wrote it for, so while I'm disappointed my name was removed from the source, they own it so they decide, I can cover some of the features if that would help?'

    The above shows that you clearly understand work for hire is owned by the entity that hired you. You expressed your personal opinion while remaining professional about what happened, and providing a reasonable way to prove you at least understand the code.

    If they go so far as to say you lied, then do you honestly, really, want to work for them? Do you want to be dealing with them when you submit your bill?

    If they approached this more professionally and said something like 'Oh we could see how that could happen, maybe you can describe the challenges in that software and the solution' then you should be able to convince any reasonable person that you at least grok the problem, and explain your solution.

    They can then follow up with another question, and you've avoided the pain.

    We've all had interviews where the interviewer was just an incredible jack-ass. They may be intimidated by you, they may be just an incredibly insecure person or having a terrible day and acting poorly. The best way to act if at all possible is always to be professional. Give your answers, they can take them or leave them.

    Remember this part if you remember anything. You are interviewing them just as much as they are interviewing you. Yes you have to pay your bills, and feed yourself (and possibly your family), but don't go into this from a position of weakness. You are a valuable commodity, and it's their job to convince you to decide to spend the finite allotment of time we have during your lifetime working for them just as much as you may want the job.

    Many technology professions and engineers are uncomfortable with negotiating. Don't be. If everyone in IT could learn that one lesson, that being hired whether it's contract or full-time is a negotiation goes a long way.

      If you are dealing with a less tech-savy more 'business' orientated person you will win points (even if grudging) that "Damn this technology person can actually negotiate and isn't a nerd who would work for star-trek lunchtime showings"

    If you are dealing with a more tech-savy person they probably won't be focused at all on the business side of things and you can discuss shop talk - discuss honestly some 'pain' (without dissing any company or individual) and often you can throw in a small amount of humor. When interviewing for a technology position it's a big plus to meet a candidate who can admit things that were tried that were disasters that they worked through.

    If the interviewer has any scar-tissue at all they will understand you have been in the trenches and had things go wrong, and you can explain how you worked around it. The solution may not have been pretty or elegant but it got you and the company you were working with through the problem.

    Someone who can think of their feet, evaluate what's going on, make a decision and adapt to save the ship is worth a ton. There are so many people in technology who search for silver bullets and are so enamored with X, whether it's hardware or software architecture that showing this helps hugely.

  • by talldean (1038514) on Sunday June 09, 2013 @01:45PM (#43953799) Homepage
    Much more useful than seeing code with someone's name on it is hearing that person describe the code. If someone calls you on it, offer to explain the design of the code, the decisions and tradeoffs made along the way, and what you'd improve next, or how you left the code in a state to be more easily maintained (by you or others) in the future. That would feel *much* more useful than seeing your name on it, and would take you a fraction of the time invested to get it done.
  • by sstamps (39313) on Sunday June 09, 2013 @01:49PM (#43953821) Homepage

    Produce it, along with the specification and the invoice for the work, with irrelevant details redacted (like how much you were paid).

    The fact that you have specific project documentation should be ample evidence that you are the original author. All that needs to be done for verification is to have the new client phone the old client and ask if they had indeed contracted with you for a piece of work. No other specifics.

    You could have even phoned the old client from the new client's place of business and asked the old client to verify it right there, as long as you have good reason to expect the old client to tell the truth.

  • Prove yourself (Score:4, Interesting)

    by orlanz (882574) on Sunday June 09, 2013 @03:07PM (#43954365)

    A name is just a name. The code doesn't belong to either you nor the new developer (most cases). It belongs to the client. If they wanted to change the name or the new developer (agent owner) wanted to; it is completely fine and legal cause they own the work. If you wrote something and you owned it, it is your right to put your sons or wife's name on it.

    Having said that, it has nothing to do with proving you wrote it in an interview. If someone said that you didn't write something, cause another persons name is on it. MOVE ON. Get your head out of your ethical ass and simply say they clearly did a lot of updates and the current version belongs to the new dev but you wrote the original. If the interviewee says you didn't create it, simply tell them you can answer any question about it's early development. Have them prove you didn't do it. If you are that uncomfortable about answering such questions, then don't have it on your résumé. Just your depth of detail in answering any questions will show people that you have intimate knowledge of the program. Let them come to their own conclusions about their developer. Don't be the dumb ass attacking their company by throwing out or implying accusations (however valid) in an interview.

    Remember you DO NOT own the code, but that doesn't mean you can't take credit for your hard work. Two completely separate things.

  • by NimbleSquirrel (587564) on Sunday June 09, 2013 @05:40PM (#43955381)
    Others have correctly pointed out that you were most likely in a situation of work-for-hire and do not have a copyright claim to the work. However you may have a claim under Author's Rights (also referred to as Moral Rights). Author's Rights are separate and distinct from Copyright, and cannot be transferred. It doesn't grant you that much, but (amongst other things) it does grant you the right to be named as author (or co-author) in a work.

    Your best course of action to to write the client a friendly letter or email (I'd lean towards letter in a situation like this), relay your situation to them, and inform them that you wish to be named as author (or co-author) in the work. Be clear you are not claiming any kind of copyright! You also may wish to point out that the other developer is incorrectly claiming copyright, when that belongs to the client. Just be careful of not making this an attack on the other developer. You just want some way of having your work recognised. If you do send a letter, be sure to get a notarized copy before you send it, in case you have to escalate things.

    If you do need to take it further, then I'd suggest to just cut your losses and walk away. The other developer claiming your work as theirs is Libel: it has already harmed your reputation. It will be expensive, and chances are you wouldn't get enough to cover your expenses (not to mention the damage it would do to your reputation even if you are right).

Cobol programmers are down in the dumps.

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