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

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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  • 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).

  • 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.

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

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

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

  • Re:version control (Score:5, Informative)

    by __aaltlg1547 ( 2541114 ) on Sunday June 09, 2013 @11:17AM (#43952695)

    you have commit dates, if the change copyright on your file is newer, there is your proof

    you also have the commit history, better proof than anything, unless they suspect you faked hundreds of commits and bug fixes

    That would work, but it would be unethical for a developer to commit his code to a publicly-accessible server without client permission to do so.

  • 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 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.

  • Re:version control (Score:5, Informative)

    by sarysa ( 1089739 ) on Sunday June 09, 2013 @12:47PM (#43953423)
    The submitter probably doesn't have access to their version control.

    However, if they can show their work remotely, they could easily find an [] link to an older version. I believe javascript files are archived just like everything else. This could possibly be useful if the submitter decides to take legal action -- I think they have some grounds to do so.
  • 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.

panic: kernel trap (ignored)