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Who Owns the Code? Two Integrators Debate

By Julie Jacobson
The code that allows automation clients' systems to be changed or serviced is owned by the integration company - not the manufacturer or the client. Is this right? Two integrators debate.


When you install a home control system, who owns the software code when the client is all paid up?


This contentious, long-brewing issue has become more urgent with the souring economy. As integrators close shop, their customers' source code may be at the mercy of a bankruptcy court. Without the code, some customers may not be able to add to their costly control systems without having another dealer start from scratch.




The issue of code ownership is not limited to bankrupt dealers. What if a customer simply is unhappy with their integrator? Should they be able to take their programming to a different integrator a local competitor?


Some integrators protect their program codes as they would any other "intellectual property." Others hold it in escrow, available to the customer if something should happen to the original programmer. Still others insist that the code is the rightful property of the customer, and the onus is on the integrator to provide such good service that the customer won't take it elsewhere.


Here, two integrators sum up the two sides. Alan Brichta, director of engineering for EPI Systems Integration, reasons for the integrators, while David Haddad, principal of Vidacom, pulls for the clients.

Integrators Own the Code


Experienced integration firms know and savvy clients quickly learn expensive control systems are only as good as the program running inside them. It is the skill of the programmer that transforms the electronics from expensive boat anchors into value-added solutions and makes the entire system desirable.

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