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At what point does it become illegal?

By cpimichael ·
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I am struggling with this and have rejoined TechRepublic just to ask this question.

I am the Technology Lead and a Director in my company.

We hired a software development company to build us an application specific to our industry with the intention of reselling it. Part of it would take over the tasks currently provided by a local software developers application that we purchased. I am not sure if this is ethical, but another Director here asked our developer to look at the local developers application and basically duplicate it. As far as I know no source code has been shared. Is this legal? Is it ethical? I feel like it is not ethical, but believe I am in the minority on this here and need to get my head straight on this.

Thank you for responding, I am really lost right now.

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This not my field, but...

by dldorrance In reply to At what point does it bec ...

The code in the application you now use may have a copyright, so you would not want to copy someone else's code in your program.

It is possible to patent software. This is discussed here, for instance, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Software_patent

Since you plan to sell this product, you might well be advised to seek an opinion from a Patent Attorney, to avoid unpleasant surprises down the road.

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Get a lawyer involved

by Tony Hopkinson In reply to At what point does it bec ...

on the legality, presumably you dd have a contract wth the original dev.

Ethically?
If you own the IP, then you should have the code, if you do and you don't have it someone screwed up big style.

If you don't own the IP then this is the action of slimy underhanded grasper...

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There are black-and-white-ish answers to this

by drowningnotwaving In reply to At what point does it bec ...

Depending upon your local laws, which someone should be able to tell you reasonably quickly.

1. Check the contract for services. This should explicitly confirm the owner of the copyright on the code.

2. If no contract, or if no copyright clause - there will be a default owner that is dictated by both Statute and common law in your specific country.

In Australia, about 10-ish years ago, the 'default' owner of commercial software became the person PAYING for the work, not the person performing the work.

Such copyright can be transferred by agreement (i.e. contract).

3. There may also be hybrid agreements where either the copyright is jointly owned, or financial consideration is given if it is on-sold to another party.

-0-0-0

So in certain circumstances, your boss may be perfectly within his / her rights to ask that this work be performed.

And in certain circumstances, he / she may be acting completely against the law.

By such conundrums do Lawyers breed.

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I wanted to be a lawyer once

by santeewelding In reply to There are black-and-white ...

Came to realize, though, that the lawyer is vested in stasis -- the status quo, and would make a terrible revolutionary.

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You missed the opportunity

by bergenfx In reply to I wanted to be a lawyer o ...

... in a beret and a three-piece suit, brandishing a kalashnikov in one hand and a brief case in the other ... viva la jurisprudence.

What an image that cuts ... it would have been on the tee-shirts of youth to this day.

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Yes, indeed

by santeewelding In reply to You missed the opportunit ...

More better even than whats-his-face that got blown away in Bolivia, or wherever.

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They are Magi

by AnsuGisalas In reply to I wanted to be a lawyer o ...

For, they can with their minds and voices and gestures change that past participle of trow you ponder.

They can make it so.

Invariably, in becoming magi, they forget what they sought to achieve. The Art is it's own goal, and it eats them alive if they're any good.
The mediocre may form PACs, but the truebloods are on a different scale entirely.

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well, it's a common thing to do.

by Jaqui In reply to At what point does it bec ...

the Free Software / Open Source Software do it all the time.
and as long as there is no code that is part of the original application, there is nothing illegal about it.

an example, Photoshop.
if someone was to duplicate the functionality of photoshop using only their own code, then market it, as long as they didn't call it photoshop [ or any other existing name for similar applications ] they are all good.

and Corel did exactly that years ago.
CorelDraw! Suite contained Corel's vector graphic illustrator competitor, and photopaint, their photoshop competitor.
and they STILL have it available:
http://www.corel.com/servlet/Satellite/ca/en/Product/1191272117978

Corel has Corel Office Suite as well, competing with M.S. Office. [ and that was originally WordPerfect ]

so there is nothing illegal about duplicating function.
you cannot duplicate look completely, nor can you use any of the original application code.

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Figured

by santeewelding In reply to well, it's a common thing ...

You'd have something to say about it. Comports with my understanding, too.

Of course, we could all be dragged into this whirlpool as amicus curaiae.

I don't know you. You don't know me.

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Look at the EULA...

by AnsuGisalas In reply to At what point does it bec ...

What does it say about reverse-engineering?

Of course, there are many ways to claim that "I didn't reverse-engineer it, I just made a program that does the same".

But even so, there are all these copyright lawsuits flying around, so it's worth being careful.
If the order was to duplicate, that sounds bad. Replicate is more greyish.

Be careful, also, about your screen name... if you're worried about being recognizable that is - it seems to be giving out a lot of info, especially with the other information (city, state, etc.) in there.

There are all kinds of lurkers here. Most of the 1000000+ users never post a thing. They just sift, and their reasons are their own.

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