Flash source code question

Discussion in 'Web Design and Development' started by X1Lightning, Dec 6, 2007.

  1. X1Lightning macrumors 6502

    X1Lightning

    Joined:
    Feb 19, 2007
    #1
    when you build a website, do you hand over the source code for any flash work you do, to the client?
    if you do, do you include it in the price for developing it? or do you charge extra for the source code?
     
  2. barrysfarm macrumors regular

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    Nov 1, 2005
    #2
    Yeah I give them everything. I do most of my developing in actionscript classes only. Knowing my clients, I don't see it as a problem because I know that they don't know AS. So, if the feel the need to change something, they'll open up the file, not understand any of it, and call me to change it. If it was a timeline based project (or something they could easily mess up), then I'd be a little weary.
     
  3. SrWebDeveloper macrumors 68000

    SrWebDeveloper

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    Alexandria, VA, USA
    #3

    Some developers consider the Flash their intellectual property and thus prevent the client from viewing the source. So what they do is charge a little extra to supply the .fla files or whatever source is generated, and the client has to sign an agreement that they're responsible from here on out since they could corrupt the developer's hard work.

    If you're selling software online, most businesses setup a "Gold" option which means the source file is included at extra cost, plus the agreement I mentioned above stated in the SLA.

    But of course developers usually don't bother to hide the source, because the client is buying the site and that's part of the site just like scripting source. So it depends on the circumstance and if the customer agrees to your terms. Usually this is included in the SLA and no special exceptions are made for Flash, so the client knows up front what to expect.

    -jim
     
  4. X1Lightning thread starter macrumors 6502

    X1Lightning

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    Feb 19, 2007
    #4
    here is the deal, i built this website over a year ago and there was lots of flash in it, and it was way beyond what anyone else in my neck of the woods was/is doing, the customer refused to sign any agreement, but i needed the money so i did the job without any agreement.
    I never said i would give him the source.
    i built this thing so all content pictures and text were loaded at runtime so the site can be maintained without flash.
    the site was hosted on my server, and the customer originally was going to handle the content updates on his own. but hey didn't want to deal with it after a few months and agreed to pay me a monthly fee to take the pics and upload them and the text changes each month. well fastforward a year now the client wanted me to do alot more work, but didnt want to pay the differance. so we split ways. and he went to one of my competitors.
    well now he is demanding the source to my flash code. and i really don't want to just give my code to my competitor.
     
  5. SrWebDeveloper macrumors 68000

    SrWebDeveloper

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    Alexandria, VA, USA
    #5
    Consult a lawyer to be sure of this, but if they parted ways - I assume you have that in writing. At that point the contract (oral or implied) terminates, regardless of the location/ownership of the server. This means the client is likely not entitled to the source because it's now YOUR intellectual property. Since no original agreement exists in writing (i.e. the SLA) stating you would supply "all source" or any source for that matter, you are not renegging on a deal and not contractually obligated in any way based on your comments just now.

    Now it's simply a matter of if you wanna shove it in their face or not. I mean, sometimes the law 10,000 comes into play. This infers if you piss of this guy, even if they're at fault, they'll tell someone, and then they tell someone else, and so on and so on. At this point it's your loss in future earnings and respect and reputation in your region, hint hint.

    To All:

    In the future, put it all in writing, folks. That's what SLA's are all about - to avoid exactly what happened here.

    (Sorry for the brutal honesty)

    -jim
     
  6. X1Lightning thread starter macrumors 6502

    X1Lightning

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    Feb 19, 2007
    #6
    well i think either way i'm going to loose future income in this area, if i hand over the code, my competitor has a road map on how to do what i do, and i loose my edge, if i don't hand it over then the client is going to smear my image more.
    he has already tried to scare off a few of my existing clients they he knew i work with.

    like you said i should have gotten him to sign the agreement. and turned the job down when he didn't.
    i do have the termination terms in writing, but he refused to sign that as well...
     
  7. honeyailyn macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Dec 7, 2007
    #7
    Someone please correct me if I'm wrong but I've been trying to learn and inform myself on my rights as an artist. This is true whether it's photography, code, web design...anything that you create from your own knowledge and abilities.

    What you create is your property. As long as you gave the customer what he paid for.

    You delivered a site that would run a script to load what ever images and text he wants and that's what he asked and paid for right? Therefore, you kept your side of the deal. You owe him nothing more. He paid for the site not the code you write to create such a site. He still has the working site you created right?

    And I think it's ridiculous and insulting when customers want you to complete more hours of work and create new and innovative designs without expecting to pay more. So you did right in going your own way.

    If he decided to go with someone new then they need to recreate it for him if they can. But he cannot demand for you to give up your creation (flash code). I would definitely check with a lawyer and research your Creative Rights.

    Honey


    I don't think he can hurt your reputation much as long as you maintain yourself professional at all times and show that you possess talent above your competitors.

    Honey
     
  8. X1Lightning thread starter macrumors 6502

    X1Lightning

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    Feb 19, 2007
    #8
    Yeah i gave him every thing he asked for and he was happy, and he kept adding things he wanted done for the same monthly fee, and i let it slide for a few months, but then it got to be an unreasonable amount of work for what he was paying me.

    Thanks for the support!
     
  9. SrWebDeveloper macrumors 68000

    SrWebDeveloper

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    #9
    The Law 10,000 when invoked does not care if one party is right or wrong, all that people remember is the negative. Be it truthful or not. So when I said that, I'm asking you to evaluate if its worth taking extra steps or simply letting it slide. Only you know what's best for you.

    If it was me, there is no way in Hell I'd give the client any source after the termination request, even if it wasn't "signed" by both parties. The request is sufficient and that intellectual property doesn't transfer unless you permit it through an SLA signed by your client, so it's yours.

    Great discussion going on here.

    -jim
     
  10. X1Lightning thread starter macrumors 6502

    X1Lightning

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    Feb 19, 2007
    #10
    That is exactly how i feel!

    I did just talk to a lawyer, and he said i should try to work something out with him first, where they can pay me my rate to make changes to the flash code, and deliver the ojbect...... but if they wont go for that, then tell them i wont just hand it over, because of my intellectual property in it.
     
  11. JasonElise1983 macrumors 6502a

    JasonElise1983

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    Between a rock and a midget
    #11
    yeah, i'm not so much a web designer (i dab at it), but i am a graphic designer, and unless somewhere it was stated that you would turn over all rights to the work, then the intellectual property is yours. You don't owe him a **** thing. I've done work for people, where they want me to turn over my photoshop, illustrator, and indesign native files to them, so they can update them in the future. I've oblidged sometime, but it was always for a fee. I really don't mind giving out the InDesign files for something like business cards, etc....because i don't have time to mess with those changes, and if they think they can, then more powe to them. Now, my illustrator and layered photoshop files...oh hell to the no! Only for a logo...or something like that. For anytype of real artwork that i created in Illustrator or Photoshop, no body is getting that unless they wanna fork over some big bucks. It's my property at all times, i can say what i can and can't do with it. so...i don't know if that helps, but i thought you might like to hear from a different kind of artist. Good luck...and dont' give him anything unless he pays a fortune for it.

    -JE
     
  12. X1Lightning thread starter macrumors 6502

    X1Lightning

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    Feb 19, 2007
    #12
    Well i sent an email to the client last night at about 11:30pm stating this

    The .fla file that you are requesting is the file that contains the source code for the flash object that runs in the site, there was never any agreement that I would ever turn over the flash source code for the site, that source code is my intellectual property. If you require changes to be made to the flash code I will make them, at my rate per hour and will deliver the compiled object electronically

    ---------------------
    well at 8:30 am i got a reply from him stating he paid for the site and he owns it, i was to build it and he owns the site per the statue presented to him from his attorney. and that he is going to proceed with is lawyer
    ---------------------

    Now i don't know of too many lawyers that work on Saturdays, let alone look up state statutes and respond to someone in that short of time frame, so I'm pretty sure he is bluffing

    should i even respond to this?
     
  13. JasonElise1983 macrumors 6502a

    JasonElise1983

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    #13
    ok...he doesn't own anything. He paid for a service, not a product. That's like saying i paid $1800 for CS3 Design Premium, so i own it, and they have to send me their source code used to build the apps, and all documentation, so i can give this to another client (corel?) and they can update and make the changes i see fit for a lesser price than adobe would have done so. That's crap, and i wouldn't bother with him any longer.

    -JE
     
  14. X1Lightning thread starter macrumors 6502

    X1Lightning

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    Feb 19, 2007
    #14
    now his new developer is getting involved and requesting assets from the flash movie so he can create a html version of the site,

    and he is asking me to reconsider withholding the source files i was hired to develop that it would not benefit my reputation among other businesses in a small town. However, that is a matter the client and his attorneys to pursue with me

    so apparently there is more than one lawyer now....
     
  15. dave@toastmedia macrumors member

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    Aug 23, 2007
    #15
    The contract dictates what the client gets.
    If they ask for end user runtime content, that is all they get :)
     
  16. SrWebDeveloper macrumors 68000

    SrWebDeveloper

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    Alexandria, VA, USA
    #16
    Okay, at this point, the law 10,000 is coming more to the forefront because this is turning rediculous. Simply put, although you're right legally and ethically - because no contract stated otherwise the source is indeed your intellectual property and the client was given a service - another developer is involved and you're out. That means it's either a matter of PRINCIPLE that you continue legal recourse, or because you're out simply give up the source to the new developer and move on to the next project, protecting your reputation. In addition, once you hand over the source, it's officially out of your hair and into the hair of the new developer.

    LET THE NEW DEVELOPER HANDLE THE PROBLEM - YOU --> MOVE ON.

    So is it worth the expense and stress of pursuing this simply because you happen to be right? If it is a small town, that means small dollars involved but also everyone knows everyone. This aint New York we're talking about, so it might be in your best interest to blow this one off.

    Speaking as a fellow developer, I sympathize and wish anyone else in the field would stand up for their rights and fight, as it's better for the community of devolopers as a whole. But... only if real change can come about, or real money saved, or a potential clientlist worthy of the legal response.

    Doesn't sound that way to me - so I say give them the source and move on.

    And I know this will be an unpopular decision on this forum. Just remember why - that I've balanced the potential good vs. the obvious bad. Sometimes even if you're right, you're wrong. This seems to be one such case.

    -jim
     
  17. snickelfritz macrumors 65816

    snickelfritz

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    Location:
    Tucson AZ
    #17
    Who's committing the bigger sin; You as the author of the work protecting your intellectual property by rufusing to hand off source files to a competitor?
    or...
    Another developer that "low-balls", and thereby depresses the local industry, to steal clients from other developers?

    It's one thing if you refuse to do the work at a reasonable rate and in a timely fashion; it's quite another if your client shops the project and shares your fee schedule with other developers who then agree to do it for slightly less in order to get the work.
    You are not required by law to lift up your skirt for your competitors when a client threatens you with legal action.

    A template contract could be discussed, in which, for a nominal fee, you prepare a set of source files that may be transferred to another developer.
    This could include the current round of changes as a courtesy.

    Just handing over the files without discussion or coming to a mutually satisfactory agreement is not a responsible thing to do IMO.
    You are essentially being bullied into doing something you don't feel comfortable with.
    Doing this will have an impact on the local industry as a precedent.
    ie: the low-ball rate eventually becomes the going rate if developers cave to pressure from clients.

    BTW, all of this communication is essentially just a courtesy on your part at this point; your client already freely chose to terminate your business relationship without a written or tacit verbal agreement regarding the ownership or even the very existence of source files.
    And since he has already paid you several times in the past without this requirement, there has not been established the implication that you as the developer are responsible for maintaining copies of source files owned by the client.
    ie: the files in question do not necessarily even exist on your computer, and the assertion that they do exist may be only be based on an assumption made by the new developer.
    "if he made the site, then he surely must have copies of the source files on his computer that he can hand off to me."
    This is just anecdotal evidence and does not in and of itself constitute proof that the source files actually exist and are in your possession.
     
  18. SrWebDeveloper macrumors 68000

    SrWebDeveloper

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    #18
    Great points, but those are all based on generalities and not the specific facts of this situation, this client, this developer. My comments, for the record, were of that context.

    In general, I completely agree with you, and if you feel the principle at stake is more important than reputation and money, I understand that.

    But one has to eventually rationalize their situation. In this case the client is such a a$$hole, the developer should get out and keep distance - this client is the type that makes a mountain out of a molehill, meaning they're more likely to want the developer to spend money on a case - even if they win. The point being, to drag them into court, create a record, add a complaint to the BBB even if unjustified, and just spew on them for the sport of it. Remember, this is the client who didn't sign a termination agreement, made demands without any legal basis, and went with the cheapest competitor anyway.

    -jim
     
  19. snickelfritz macrumors 65816

    snickelfritz

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    Tucson AZ
    #19
    I agree that making a mountain out of a molehill is usually not worth the time and aggravation.
    It really is mostly about revealing source code to competitors, which amounts to little more than a free cut and paste repository in many cases.
    (almost certainly in this case)

    This is a serious issue, not unlike a restauranteur surrendering their secret recipe for mulligatawny.
    Anyone who asks for this information deserves the response they get:
    "no soup for you!" "come back, one year!"
     
  20. Malfoy macrumors 6502a

    Malfoy

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    #20
    Semi disclaimer: I know about programming, I can do it, I just choose not to more often than not and prefer to have others doing it.

    Given that, I'll say it depends on what the orginal guy asked for in his request(which some others have hinted at). When I ask for a website to be done, I specify what I'm looking for in the code(as far as structure, labeling) because I state I plan to modify the code at a later date.

    Now if I was to receive code that was obscured in some way to keep the programmer on the payroll longer than I wanted, there would def be a problem that I'm willing to fight over.

    So I'll say this, if the OP's client said he intended to make changes to the site after it was given to him. I think it was implied he'd want all the code or else he couldn't reasonably be expected to do it if the OP is holding an important piece of code hostage.
     
  21. X1Lightning thread starter macrumors 6502

    X1Lightning

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    #21
    Source code was never asked for untill now, and it wasnt even him that asked for it, it was his new guy, and when i said no, then the threats started rolling in.
    but i talked to a intellectual properties lawyer, and i was told i have nothing to worry about.
    he is going spend alot of money and get nowhere.
    they stated that source code is my work product, and with no written agreement to give him the source, he has no rights to it.
     
  22. SrWebDeveloper macrumors 68000

    SrWebDeveloper

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    #22
    Since you've contacted a lawyer and worked out the future possibilities, you did the right thing for you. Of course, expect more threats to start rolling in unless you're proactive and send the guy a letter from your lawyer stating your position of strength and that you'll sue his a$$ if he so much as peeps.

    If you don't do anything, I'm concerned for you (re: "threats rolling in") and stand by my original comment. But things have changed since I wrote that last, and I sympathize and concur.

    -jim
     
  23. X1Lightning thread starter macrumors 6502

    X1Lightning

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    Feb 19, 2007
    #23
    I did get another threat , from him saying he is working with a lawyer, but if i turn the source over he will go away, no mention of who this lawyer is.....
    i have since forwarded all his communications with me to my lawyer. she is going to handle this now...
     
  24. SrWebDeveloper macrumors 68000

    SrWebDeveloper

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    #24
    I offered my previous advice to avoid this - not because I didn't think you'd win (based on all you've told us, you've got a winning hand) - but fearing you'd have to incur damage to your wallet and possibly your reputation. You know, the client takes you to court to get you to lose money, which is a win for them even if the case is dismissed or you win. It's called retribution.

    At this point my only question is how far are you prepared to take this, based on your principles? Let me rephrase.... based on your cash at hand? I know from experience a lawyer charges $500.00 for consulatation, much less representing you in a possible small claims case. So I hope your lawyer is a friend and not too painful to your wallet.

    Keep us appraised - I admire you for taking a stand, and hope you can settle this out of court and keep your pride and money, or if you must go to an arbitrator or small claims or in front of a judge - kick the complete and total a$$ of that crazy client! heh

    Thanks for the update, and good luck.

    -jim
     

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