|laziness, impatience, and hubris|
Sorry to hear about your circumstance.
When I was a teen, I started programming to make games. After a couple of years I decided to take a job at a game company to finance my own endeavors. Before I took the job I thought, Hmmm.. Will they own the last two years of my life? I better look this up!
I found "The Software Developer's and Marketer's LEGAL Companion" by Gene K. Landy. It was a great book with clear explanations. Covered more than I wanted to know. It came out in 1993 so the web and some of it's issues don't come up but I believe the book is still highly relevant. It put me in a much better position later on when negotiating with clients and keeping my code mine.
I think everyone who seriously programs should have at least a base understanding of the law as it applies to them. If not, you never know when you'll get your ass in a sling.
"To be civilized is to deny one's nature."