A recent decision by the Southern District of New York revealed that an independent contractor had developed and connected a number of different programs to develop a new software that could be considered a “compilation” as a whole, and that, moreover, the source code for each program could also be considered a contribution to “collective work” under 17 STATES. C No. 101. Stanacard, LLC v. Rubard, LLC, 12CV05176 (S.D.N.Y. (February 3, 2016)) Innovative custom software has become a tool for success in today`s economy. The software developers and software they have created are available in all shapes and sizes. The developer could be a friend or relative of the family. The developer could be requested by Craigslist. Companies might simply be attracted to the developer`s website, which offers a number of software development services. Once the developer is configured, the software type can be configured in different ways. The software can be alone. Or it could be an add-on or an adaptation of existing platforms like Salesforce.com or Magenta.
The Copyright Act contains a substantial exception to the standard rule in the form of the “Work Made for Hire” doctrine. According to this doctrine, the copyright on certain works does not belong to the original author, but to the person who engaged the author in the creation of the work. 17 U.S.C No. 201 (b). For example, a work made by “an employee in the course of his employment” is a work of rent whose copyright belongs to the employer of the person. 17 United States.C. Contracts with independent employees and contractors should include confidentiality clauses that explicitly identify the software in its definition of confidential information. According to the “work for hire” doctrine, the classification of the worker who creates the software, either as an employee or as an independent contractor, plays an important role. In the case of an employee, a company often has the copyright to the work created by employees.
The recruitment company should prove the existence of an employee-employer relationship and that the copyrighted work, i.e. the software, was created as part of the employment relationship. While this analysis can be quite simple for a company with an internal technology department, most companies refer to independent contractors for their technological needs. Here, [the independent contractor] created and combined a number of different computer programs to create Stanacard`s new software system.