[Linux-aus] Australian copyright law on computer programs and FLOSS licensing?

Nathan Bailey nathan.bailey at monash.edu
Mon Aug 1 12:31:59 EST 2011

The important point here is "in the absence of a contract"  I think in
absence of a contract, all copyright rights vest with the creator. It
is the act of contract that transfers some of these rights. Many
standard employee contracts clearly articulate that the employer owns
certain rights and some of these even extend to similar work you may
do outside the workplace.

Commissioning alone doesn't, I think, transfer rights (cf. for
example, a photographer who retains copyright to their pictures).

I am not a lawyer either but I do endeavour to make sure that all
expectations are very clear in any agreements I'm involved in :-)
PS: For extra credit, what do moral rights look like for software
developers? :-)

On 1 August 2011 12:12, Paul Gear <paul at libertysys.com.au> wrote:
> On 01/08/11 04:15, Ben McGinnes wrote:
>> ...
>>> As examples of the type of detail I am looking for:
>>> - in the absence of particular language in a contract, who holds the
>>> copyright to the software developed by an outside contractor, the
>>> client or the contractor?
>> A contractor or consultant retains the copyright.
>>> - in the absence of particular language in a contract, who holds the
>>> copyright to the software developed by a developer on payroll with
>>> full time employment?
>> This gets a little complex.  If the employee develops software during
>> the course of their job then the copyright belongs to the company.  If
>> the employee develops software on their own time, with their own
>> resources then they may retain copyright (although some employers have
>> been known to try to claim it, at which point there's usually a fight).
> Hi Ben,
> Has this situation changed in recent years?  Last i looked into this, if
> one party commissioned the creation of software (or other copyrightable
> material) by another party, the copyright rested by default with the
> party which commissioned the material's creation, not the party
> responsible for the actual work of creation.
> Similarly, when i investigated the situation of employees producing
> software, the answer i found was that by default the copyright resided
> with the employer, even if the employee used his or her own time and
> resources.  I asked a couple of previous employers to sign a specific
> waiver because of this.
> IANAL also, but i'm curious to know whether my present understanding is
> out-of-date.
> Regards,
> Paul
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