licensing/copyright question

Bernhard Reiter bernhard at
Mon Oct 17 15:21:10 UTC 2005

On Mon, Oct 17, 2005 at 12:38:15PM +0200, Thomas Linden wrote:
> I've got a complicated issue regarding a software I wrote. The software
> in question is a commandline firewall configuration tool for openbsd
> including webbased gui. It was a commercial project, but I never had a
> written contract with the company I wrote it for. They paid me a little
> bit for it, but at the end of the last year they stopped paying. 

A verbal contract is also a contract.

> Some months later I abandoned the project and stopped working on it. 
> The company is no more interested in the project.
> The question now is, who owns the copyright on the software? From my
> point of view it is me, but I'm unsure. And, would it be legal to
> publish the software as opensource (say GPLed)?

The one who owns the exploitation rights can publish the software
as Free Software. So the question to solve is: Who has the rights.

> I'm located in germany, so german law applies.

In Europe you are the author of the work.
This does not automatically give you the exploitation rights, though.

Wether the company has the exploitation rights will depend on the nature
of the business relation you have had. Easiest for you would be to get the
company agree on the view that you hold the rights and always did.
Best would be in written form.  
If they are not interested in the project anymore,
this could be doable and would clarify the situation best.

(Note: I am not a lawyer.)

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