Software Code: Who Owns It?

By | Software Agreements, Software Lawyer | No Comments

software code development and ownershipWhether you’re a developer or a business owner who pays for applications to be developed, it’s important to know who owns the software code.

Many software development agreements don’t properly address this issue. And often both developer and client each believes they own the code.

Sometimes it makes sense for the developer to retain copyright ownership while licensing the code to the client. This is particularly important where the developer plans to recycle the code on multiple projects for different customers.

On the other hand, a business owner may want proprietary rights to prevent development of competing applications. If this is the case, the owner may pay a premium to own the code. And perhaps license some rights to the developer for future non-competing use.

Of course, there’s also the issue of open source code (e.g. GitHub) and code that’s in the public domain (e.g. Unlicense). Because it’s common practice for software developers to “borrow” these to incorporate into a software application rather than reinvent the wheel.

If some of the code is open source, that needs to be disclosed so that the client knows the licensing limitations imposed on its use.

Similarly, if there’s public domain code in the new application, the client needs to know. For example, the application’s end-user license agreement (EULA) will need to address the use of open source and public domain code in addition to the proprietary code created.

Whether you pay for app development or are a developer, an experienced software lawyer can prepare the right legal documents that identify and protect your rights.

When Should You Pay Affiliates Commissions?

By | Internet Lawyer, Website Lawyer, Website Legal Documents | No Comments

pay affiliates commissionsIf you have an affiliate program for your products and/or services, when should you pay affiliates after a commission has been earned?

It depends on your risk comfort level and the quality of your affiliates.

Affiliate Fraud

Unfortunately, affiliate fraud is a common issue. If you haven’t prescreened affiliate applicants before approving them to join your program, chances are you’re going to have multiple con artists gaming the system to increase their payouts by screwing you over and cheating other affiliates.

Refund Periods Affect When You Pay Affiliates Commissions

So, how do you protect yourself and the integrity of your program?

As a general rule, it makes sense to wait to pay out commissions until after the refund period expires.

Credit Card Fraud And Affiliate Commissions

Even then, you may want to wait longer (e.g. 30 days) beyond the refund period expiration to reduce the chance you get cheated by a credit card fraud scheme.

For example, a con artist affiliate might buy stolen credit card information off the Dark Web and use it to make a bunch of bogus purchases to “earn” affiliate commissions. It might take a while for the victims to realize their credit card info has been stolen and contact their card issuers to request the charges be reversed as fraudulent.

Suddenly you’re getting hit with chargebacks by Visa, MasterCard, etc. after the affiliate has been paid and disappeared. So, you’ve lost the money on the sales plus the affiliate commissions. And you’ll be getting angry emails and phone calls from the victims who believe you’re the one who cheated them (instead of the con artist affiliate).

Where To Get Help

An experienced Internet business lawyer can craft an affiliate program agreement that’s designed to protect you and reduce your risks when you pay affiliates commissions. The attorney can also prepare the right privacy policy, terms of use, and other website legal documents you need to minimize the legal dangers of selling products and services online.

3 Signs Your Website Privacy Policy Needs To Be Updated

By | Internet Lawyer, Website Lawyer, Website Legal Documents | No Comments

website privacy policy updatesTo protect themselves from lawsuits and government investigations, many business owners have their websites reviewed for legal compliance issues at least once a year by an experienced Internet lawyer. These reviews often result in privacy policy updates to reflect new laws and regulations.

Here are three signs your website’s privacy policy is stale, i.e. it’s not providing you the website legal protection you need.

1. European Union General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR)

If your privacy policy doesn’t address the EU’s GDPR, the policy is probably very outdated. Because the GDPR went into effect back in May 2018. The regulation needs to be addressed if your site has visitors from EU countries…whether or not you do business in the European Union.

2. California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA)

California’s new privacy law went into effect on January 1, 2020 and started to be enforced on July 1, 2020. If you have California visitors to your website — regardless of where your business is located — you’ll want to make sure your site’s privacy policy either shows how you comply with the CCPA or explains why the CCPA doesn’t apply to your business.

Related Article: Privacy Policy 101: What Every Website Owner Should Know

3. Brazil’s General Data Protection Law (LGDP)

Following in the footsteps of the European Union, the Brazilian Lei Geral de Proteção de Dados Pessoais went into effect in August 2020. If you have website visitors from Brazil, your privacy policy should either address how you’ll comply with the LGDP or why the LGDP doesn’t apply to your business.

IP Blocking Instead of Privacy Policy Updates?

Don’t be tempted to try to circumvent these privacy laws simply by banning visitors from the European Union, California, or Brazil. Even blocking IP addresses won’t prevent someone from accessing your site using a Virtual Private Network (VPN). It’s easier to make privacy policy updates that protect you than to try to evade these laws by blocking Web traffic.

What to Do…

If you need help with privacy policy updates or other website legal documents, the first step is to book a phone consultation with Internet Lawyer Mike Young.

Flat Fee Contract Drafting And Revisions

By | Business Contracts, Business Lawyer | No Comments

flat fee contract draftingOver half of Business Lawyer Mike Young’s practice involves flat fee contract drafting or revisions for clients. Why a flat fee instead of charging by the hour? Because it makes sense for the client to know ahead of time the amount they’re investing in legal protection so there are no surprises.

Phone Consultation

During the initial phone consultation, Attorney Young and the client discuss the agreement(s) to be prepared or revised. After the consult, the client will receive a firm quote for either drafting the new contracts or revising existing ones.

In some cases, it’s more cost-effective to have a new agreement prepared than to revise an existing contract that has major flaws in it. Because it takes time to identify and fix problems in an existing agreement, particularly those that have been “borrowed” from another source by the client.

What if additional work needs to be done? Flat fee quotes for contract drafting include one set of complimentary revisions within 10 days of the client receiving the agreement from Attorney Young.

Hourly Billing As An Alternative

What about hourly rates?

Attorney Young will prepare or revise agreements at an hourly rate. However, most clients prefer to pay a flat fee instead.

When hourly rates are charged, it’s typically when the amount of time involved is clearly an unknown. For example, when a client wants Attorney Young to negotiate the contract’s terms with the other party’s lawyer there’s no way to know how time-consuming that will be. So, the standard hourly rate is charged and billed in 1/10th hour increments.

How To Get Started

If you need help with an agreement, your first step is booking a phone consultation with Attorney Young.