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  1. #1
    Lounger
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    Who owns protected document password? (all versions)

    Hoping someone has some experience in this area.

    About 4 years ago, a business hired me to create approximately 10-12 forms that they use daily. A couple of years later they paid me to modify slightly and also duplicate another set for a second location they opened. Now they want another set for a third location, except they just want the password, they don't want to hire anyone. Yes, it's just changing the address, but I only charged full-pop the first time.

    Do they own the password too, or just use of the files as-is? Any advice?

  2. #2
    Super Moderator jscher2000's Avatar
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    Re: Who owns protected document password? (all ver

    Removing the document protection password is trivial, so apparently you have a very honest (or naive) customer.

    The following are general comments, not legal advice. All legal advice should be given confidentially in the context of an attorney-client relationship, and tailored to the facts and circumstances of the individual case.

    It makes sense to start with your agreements with your customer. In many cases, the developer will transfer all copyright rights to the customer. In that case, the customer certainly has the right to make changes without the developer's involvement or approval. If the developer refuses to cooperate by supplying the password, the customer might be able to obtain legal relief, but probably would be better off cracking the encryption than going to court, at least as far as cost is concerned. If the developer retained the copyright and simply gave an unlimited license to use the materials, then the developer is in the driver's seat. However, if the work product is only useful to that customer, and therefore the developer would experience no serious harm from transferring the copyright, a reasonable buy-out usually is arranged. If the developer is re-licensing the same basic forms to multiple customers, that may not be an option, but some kind of expanded license could be negotiated.

  3. #3
    Lounger
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    Re: Who owns protected document password? (all ver

    Thank you jscher2000 for your detailed reply. There was no initial agreement. This has been a learning experience none-the-less.
    To maintain goodwill I will provide the password to them. Thanks again.

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