I have a long term website project where I am planning on hiring freelancers occasionally to help write code. However, I have also been thinking about how my project can be protected.
I am not sure if having a copyright on my website/code is enough or if I should get some sort of NDA for each freelancer to sign.
Any advice would be greatly appreciated since I am not familiar with the rules that upworks set for freelancers.
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If you're the client, and you're hiring people to work on your project, then you own the source code by default, automatically.
You don't need to do anything else in order to be the owner of the source code.
Of course... there's ownership. And then there's possession.
You also want to make sure you're in possession of the source code.
Personally, I am too busy to take on new projects and I don't solicity work in the Forum. But I'm going to tell you what I do, as a programmer. You should have your programmers do the same, and don't work with somebody who refuses to:
When I'm hired by a client, the first thing I do is set up a developement server just for their project.
And I send them the full login credentials... root-level credentials, everything that I have. For the files, the database, everything.
And I do all my work on that server.
Everything I do, from the beginning of the project, is 100% accessible to the project owner, the paying client.
The client can copy any and all files from that location to any other location at any time.
I encourage you to have complete access to all the work being done on your project, and to regularly back it up to elsewhere.
In the Community Forum, we hear horror stories from clients whose hired contractors/freelancers block access to source code or take off with it over some dispute or another. I set things up, from the beginning, in a way that makes that impossible.
Just because you OWN the source code, and just because you are in POSSESSION of the source code, that doesn't guarantee that the source code is any good.
Make sure you work with a good project manager, somebody who is distinct from the developers and others working on the project. The project manager should help you decide which of the developers you hire you should continue working with, and which you should close the contracts on and stop working with.
And the developers should be able to regularly demonstrate the utility of new modules and new functionality.
If your developers are waiting until it is all done for you to see how the project works, then they're not actually creating usable work. They're just scamming you.