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Code Stolen - what to do?

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    Code Stolen - what to do?

    Hi all,

    I've had a piece of code I wrote stolen by a local web development company and used verbatim on one of their client's websites.
    It has a very specific function and dare I say it, is very clever, not something your average web developer could do.

    Where do I stand legally on this? (Scottish Law if that makes a difference)

    I'm thinking of writing to ask them to take it down or alternatively pay money to a charity I am involved with - it's not about the money, just the principle - had they asked I would have given them permission as their client is a community organisation.

    I just wonder where I stand if they tell me to feck off or ignore me.
    Chasing them legally will probably be expensive and I've no idea if I could take them to the small claims court and if so, how to price my loss and what happens if they remove the code before it got to court.


    Back at the coal face

    What evidence do you have that you wrote it?

    Unless you have a patent (*spit*) then what the actual code does is irrelevant. If its a verbatim copy of a piece of code you wrote, and you can prove that its your own original creation then it is a violation of your copyright.

    I'd start by sending them a polite request and seeing where that gets you. Failing that you could send them a letter before action:


    The simplest solution for them would be to re-write the code themselves to achieve the same functionality. You could also offer to license the code.

    I'm intrigued though. What does it do and what's so special about it?


      If you're thinking of doing anything at all, the very first thing to do is get evidence that they are using it on their website so they can't take it down and deny it later - screenshots, trace logs etc etc.

      Then if it's a verbatim copy you need to prove your prior creation so if you have it stored somewhere (source control system, file backup) then you need to find the most reliable way of evidencing the date it was first written by you.

      With those things done it's really up to you - if it's just a matter of principle then I'd suggest a friendly email/letter stating that you've seen they are using your function on their website without permission and either request they stop doing so; ask them to give you public credit for it; or whatever else you feel is fair under the circumstances.

      Going down a legal route is, as you say, tricky, as I'd say you need to produce some evidence that this company have profited from your work in order to put a financial sum on it - whether directly through sales, or indirectly by passing off your clever work as their own and thus bolstering their reputation - so that you can argue you are owed X in damages.


        Have a look at www.bsa.org to see if there is anything relevant to you.

        Personally if you want to screw people over and the code is not made for financial gain put a GPL licence on every file. Companies tend to freak if they notice GPL licence on the code as it means any derived work has to also have it.
        "You’re just a bad memory who doesn’t know when to go away" JR


          firstly - thanks to those who replied.

          I mailed the director of the company stating that I was unhappy that they had stolen my code and taken my copyright.
          I said that ordinarily I would insist they remove the code from their client's site but as their client is a community organisation who will get benefit from my code, I would let them use my code if they donated to a charity I am involved with.

          The director sent me a very strange email - like she was drunk or on drugs type of email - incoherent and making no sense, also containing lies. Anyway, they have rewritten the code so they aren't using my code any more although they have stolen my idea but I doubt I can do much about it and TBH I have other things to do but an apology would have been nice.

          I do know their client and informed them about it so fingers crossed they won't use them for their website needs any more.


          Back at the coal face