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code ownership

How Much Of Your Software Is Open Source Code?

By Software Agreements, Software Lawyer

software developerWhether you’ve got employees or independent contractors developing your software, it’s important to know exactly what they’re using to create your application. This is true whether you’ve got a desktop app, mobile app, or SaaS.

Why do you want to know this? Because chances are you don’t own what you think you own, i.e., it’s not entirely your application.

Now it’s standard practice for software developers to recycle code they’ve used on other projects. Even more common is to legally “borrow” from open source code libraries rather than reinventing the wheel when it comes to your project.

Is that wrong to do? No, if the open source licenses are followed by the developer. However, that creates a licensor-licensee relationship when it comes to your application. It does not give you ownership of the licensed code.

In fact, if you don’t know what you own, don’t be surprised to find out 75% of your application is owned by someone else and only 25% of it is custom code tweaking it to meet your particular needs.

This can affect the value of your application, particularly if it’s easy for a competitor to clone what you’ve got using the same open source code.

That doesn’t mean open source licensing is bad. However, it’s just one of the many reasons you want to know exactly what you’re getting when it comes to software development for your business.

An experienced software lawyer can put together the right agreements for your development team that protects your rights when it comes to application ownership and licensing. Of course, this includes limiting what your developers can do with what they’ve created when it comes to projects for third parties.