Web development Birmingham

Web Development and Web Design Intellectual Property Advice

By Andrew Ward By Andrew Ward Feb 25, 2011

Here is some advice regarding the web and intellectual property. I will explain the concept of IP ownership via licence VS copyright.

As you know, being in web development intellectual property is an important part of every contracted job that we do. So here is my advice:


Firstly, there are two ways that you can own the intellectual property: Owning the copyright outright or owning a licence for the code written.


Copyright is simple. It is 100% yours and you can do whatever. However, you will pay a great deal more for whatever you have created. As a web developer, you build up extensive libraries of code that you can reuse on ever project. If a customer wants to own the copyright outright then those libraries cannot be used. If they were reused for a project where the copyright was transferred then you would own the libraries and your web developer could not use them again.

Through appropriate licencing is the way that you should be looking to secure control of what you are commissioning to be created. Most standard web developer licences will give you unrestricted control over what you do with your code, but usually prohibit resale. Licencing can be complex, so you need to make sure that the licence you are provided allows you to move the project to another developer for future updates if needed. If this provision isn’t in place then it could be against the law for a second developer to modify the code.

The next thing worth mentioning is open source licencing. A lot of web developers use open source content management systems such as wordpress, joomla, drupal to drive the website. These all have standard open source licences. For example wordpress follows the GPLv2 licence, which you can read in full here:
http://www.gnu.org/licenses/gpl-2.0.html

The crucial thing to note here is that often the open source licence dictates that any modifications to content management system must also own the same licence. This means that if you develop bespoke features, those features must also be open source. Sometimes it can even include the design of your website.

This depends on the licence of the open source software but I would definitely recommend that you read the licence of any content management system that you are having your website designed within.

Summary: Don’t own the copyright of the code unless it is essential. If you want the copyright, you will pay a great deal more. Get the right licence agreement from the start so that it is fair for both parties. Double check the licencing of any open source content management system you are using.

Did you find this article useful? Sharing is a great way to show support, and ensures that we can continue to create more quality articles:

Get a free quote