January 17, 2021
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  • By Dax Pandhi
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A good contract should be all or nothing: if you aren't willing to put everything in writing, you shouldn't have a contract at all. Now, this is where it all gets messy. I'd like show a sample contract, but my attorney says I might get sued, so let's not get into that... ;))

A contract is merely an agreement between two parties. Like, you agree to give the CD containing the software and they agree to give you a certain amount of money. Simple.

I've signed contracts with people who would have gladly seen me arrested and rot in jail. However we were able to put our expectations into a contract, regardless of personal differences and we both delivered exactly what we promised. No threats, no lawsuits and I'm still a free man. So contracts are a good thing!

I'd recommend reading the Bernard B. Kamoroff book Small Time Operator which will explain more.

TOP TIP: If you're doing ANY business with family or friends, spell out all details in the contract ahead of time, and save yourself major headaches, loss of friendship, and even broken families. If either party disagrees, it is better to call off the deal rather than endure ten-year lawsuits and losing your business.

A good contract has these things:

  • Who are the parties
  • What the contract is for
  • What are the grounds of this contract
  • Escape clause: this is an explicit description of how each party can cancel the contract without getting sued
  • Description of the work you'll do, usually described in the terms of deliverables (CDs, Floppies, etc)
  • Compensation (the stuff we all like)
  • Schedule of approval (they do need to see software in progress from time-to-time)

Never start work before they give you 25% of the total. If there are expenses, you will need to get 'em up-front. It's common to get 50% up front, the rest 25% at half-way and the rest upon delivery.

TOP TIP: NEVER hand over the final deliverable until you have the entire payment in hand.

If they wanna see the final product before paying you, make one with a splash screen saying 'IN PROGRESS' and 6 minute timer that will automatically shuts down the software <devilish grin>

Intellectual Property

EEEAAAAAARRRRRRGGGHHHH!! How much do I need to tell you. OkayI'm okayjust temporary insanity! You can check out my Code In the Courtroom article to clear up any questions on this issue.

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This article was originally published on November 22, 2002

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