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Legal Question - Someone building our website for free

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TheProcess

Bronze Contributor
Nov 14, 2018
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I started an online business a few weeks ago. The long-term vision of the business is to have it become some sort of a social platform. For now, however, we just want to create a website.

An acquaintance/friend of mine has agreed to create the initial website for us for free.

My cofounder thinks we should make him sign a non disclosure agreement, with a waiver of moral rights and potentially a non compete. Is all of this necessary?

My cofounder is worried that if we become big one day, the friend who is building the website can claim some sort of ownership over it since he created the first code/ initial website.
 

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ApparentHorizon

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Apr 1, 2016
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If you're in the US, your cofounder is right. The person designing your website retains partial rights by default under US law. Mostly the design and aesthetics. The actual functionality is a blurry line.

But if your friend is doing it for free, the least you could do is throw him a few non-voting basis points.
 

TheProcess

Bronze Contributor
Nov 14, 2018
180
132
69
If you're in the US, your cofounder is right. The person designing your website retains partial rights by default under US law. Mostly the design and aesthetics. The actual functionality is a blurry line.

But if your friend is doing it for free, the least you could do is throw him a few non-voting basis points.

I'm in Canada. Do you know if the law is the same here?

And with what you have said, do you know what exactly he would need to sign so that he doesn't retain any ownership?
 

ApparentHorizon

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I'm in Canada. Do you know if the law is the same here?

And with what you have said, do you know what exactly he would need to sign so that he doesn't retain any ownership?

I've only done business in Canada for a couple of months now, so I can't comment on that.

But the US version is based on copyright law, which is widely recognized around the world. The designer wouldn't own any shares in your company. They own the rights to the design you're using.

The web work I do for businesses, I tell them in an informal email that they own the design and everything they pay me for. Under a New York ruling in 2012, as long as it's in writing, it's legally binding.

Mandatory...I am not a lawyer and this is not legal advice, and should not be taken as such.
 

TheProcess

Bronze Contributor
Nov 14, 2018
180
132
69
I've only done business in Canada for a couple of months now, so I can't comment on that.

But the US version is based on copyright law, which is widely recognized around the world. The designer wouldn't own any shares in your company. They own the rights to the design you're using.

The web work I do for businesses, I tell them in an informal email that they own the design and everything they pay me for. Under a New York ruling in 2012, as long as it's in writing, it's legally binding.

Mandatory...I am not a lawyer and this is not legal advice, and should not be taken as such.
I see. Thanks!
 

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