I have employed a developer for a project who has developed a CMS platform and licensed it under MIT license.

Now that developer is going to use that MIT licensed CMS in my project. No problem.

The contract I have, though, states that copyright for any and all work produced for this project by the developer is assigned to me as the owner as a "work for hire".

I want to make sure that the CMS that he wrote, owns the copyright of, and is licensed under MIT is NOT going to be signed over to me by the section in the contract that states all ownership of code is assigned to me.

Is it best to include a new section in the contract specifically to address that?

  • 1
    Maybe this would make more sense at the Law StackExchange or Freelancing. It seems more about the contract terms than about open source.
    – Brandin
    Sep 5, 2019 at 17:29
  • I had seen similar contract open source license questions posted here but happy to do that.
    – xxCDxx
    Sep 5, 2019 at 17:50
  • I mean maybe it is fine here but just imagine you replace "MIT license" in this question with "XYZ license" (which is some made up non-Open Source license). It would still basically be the same question.
    – Brandin
    Sep 5, 2019 at 19:15

1 Answer 1


All credit to you for not wanting to hoover up work done by your developer simply because you don't feel you're entitled to it. However, speaking as a contractor, I wouldn't be happy to start changing the contract mid-stream.

You can unilaterally disclaim any rights interest in the CMS and work done thereof. There is a standard form of words that appears in the GPLv2 which I find suitable:

Yoyodyne, Inc., hereby disclaims all copyright interest in the program `Gnomovision' (which makes passes at compilers) written by James Hacker.

signature of Ty Coon, 1 April 1989

Ty Coon, President of Vice

That way, should anyone ever attempt to make the case that the contract as written gives you the copyright of the work done on the CMS while the author was in your employ, both you and (s)he can show your later, and therefore over-riding, disclaimer of any such interest.

  • thanks @MadHatter. I ended up going down this path and explicitly stating there was no ownership transfer of the programs he owned and made available via MIT and that he was going to use in the end product. I spoke to a contract lawyer friend who suggested as much as well. It was tricky since the developer I was hiring was the one who owned the copyright. On the off chance this thing takes off, I don't want some unreasonable lawyer in the future to say that this contract meant the company was now the owner of the code.
    – xxCDxx
    Sep 10, 2019 at 14:09

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