|Keep It Simple, Stupid|
Re: What I am paid forby sundialsvc4 (Abbot)
|on Mar 09, 2010 at 01:42 UTC||Need Help??|
Most of all, this discussion reinforces the point that you need to have a well thought out contract with any and every customer that you do work for. Among other things, you must expressly agree upon just what it is they are buying: is it (a) the source-code; (b) the right to use the software that you have prepared for them (with a suitably explicit definition of just what you mean by “use”), or (c) “the results obtained?”
As a simple example... “okay, I am not a Home Depot Person.” My dad loves the place... I always know where to buy his Christmas presents. But as for me, I use licensed contractors. I despise the thought of going into Home Depot. What I want is ... a roof that does not leak, and somebody that I can call to fix it for free if it does leak! So, I am strictly buying “the results obtained,” with a warranty. That's what I'm putting my hard-earned money down to get, and I make no bones and no apologies for it. I don't want your box of leftover shingles; I don't want your $200 air-hammer. I want a roof that does not leak, and I want recourse if it does.
Copyright is the very strongest and potentially the most lucrative right in the world. Many people do leave money on the table ... sometimes vast amounts of money ... because their vision is limited to the notion that they are merely selling “hours.” This truly is an area of business where the maxim that you read in the in-flight magazines holds true: “in business, you don't get what you deserve... you get what you negotiate.”
The one and only way that you can ever step out of the ranks of the “wage slaves” is when you are able to create something such that you can write it once, but sell it many times. But nobody's going to go out there and “be nice to you.” The world of business does not work that way.
I frankly think that many programmers have drunk the “free open-source kool-aid®” as a spectacular toast to their own naïvite. They have utterly no concept of just how valuable their work can be, and for this reason they starve. Trouble is: their work starves with them. It withers on the vine due to a simple lack of revenue, with the consequence that everyone who tried to rely upon their work-product, sees their efforts wither also. No one wins.
There are many acceptable ways that you can negotiate a contract. As a copyright owner, you have absolute discretion as to how you choose to license your work. (And as a salaried employee, you might well agree to wind up with all of it being “a work made for hire,” in exchange for the security of a regular paycheck... which is not altogether a bad thing!) But, no matter what you choose, it needs to make ongoing business sense: for you, and for your product. After all, both you and your product are going to live or perish by that decision. And you may as well live.
So, is there “a bright-line rule” here? No. And that's my point. Negotiate whatever you want to... but do not leave it to chance.