Commissioned or bespoke software can raise difficult issues of ownership if there is no clear agreement in place between the client and the developer. Who will own the copyright? Can the developer reuse code written for a particular client? Is the client entitled to modify or update the code? Can the client resell the software? Might the client be limited to using the code in a particular market sector or in a particular jurisdiction? Who owns any database rights in bespoke software? Does it matter whether the client is given the source code? Does it matter how much the client has paid for the software? Can a client claim joint authorship on the basis of their role in providing detailed specifications and taking part in beta testing? Might the moral rights of the developer limit what the client can do with the software?
I discuss the legal issues involved in this article which has just been published in the Journal of Intellectual Property Law & Practice.
Update: Out-Law have a report of a recent case exactly on point.