I am embarking on a possible EU-funded cooperation project to develop a platform, with other organizations. The development of the code will be shared.

I am writing this application with my startup, to create a platform for impact in the cultural field. As such, I have specified to the organizations that the startup will need to own the platform, to attract investments and scale it up in Europe, and ownership is clarified in the EU application.

I believe that these kind of approaches are commonly done through research-SME cooperation grants. However, I am unaware of the implications. I believe that any person's work must be paid and acknowledged, so I'd like to ask your advice on what kind of options are before me.

Since the coder of a software has copyright over the developed code, can that be acquired after the development of the project? If yes, is there an indicative amount, or somewhere to look for this information?

The other option, would be to give the coders a share in the company. However, it may be that they are not interested in that, and I would not like to find myself at the end of the project with a code that I cannot use, or that cannot attract investors (I am also one of the coders). This question is to understand how to move, without being potentially seen aggressive on the theme with my eventual partners. Any help would be very appreciated.

  • Get your startup to hire a lawyer. Mar 28, 2022 at 23:47
  • This does not, in my view, ask for specific legal advice, and should not be closed on tha basis. Mar 29, 2022 at 1:08

1 Answer 1


There is no EU law on copyright

Each member state of the EU has its own copyright law and they are all subtly different. For example, the employer of an author owns the copyright in Ireland but the employee owns it in France, subject to any licence in their employment contract and noting that French works cannot be perpetually transferred.

The ownership law that applies is the law where the work was created. If you have a multi-national team then you may have different ownership laws applying to the work. It also sounds like the work will be collaborative such that it will be difficult to point to any part of it and identify the author of that part; this makes it a joint work and all copyright owners must agree on any use of the joint work.

You need a lawyer well versed in international copyright law.

  • "all copyright owners must agree on any use of the joint work." Under US law, any joint owner of a copyright may license it or create derivative works or otherwise use it without consulting the other joint owners, but must account for any profits made. I suspect this is also true in at least some EU countries. Do you have a source that says otherwise. Mar 29, 2022 at 0:34
  • See 17 USC 106A (e); 17 USC 291 (a) According to hugheshubbard.com/news/… "Each copyright co-owner had independent rights to use and license the work, subject only to a duty to account to the other co-owners for any profits that are made"But two US circuits have recently held that retroactive licenses and exclusice licenses require consent of all co-owners, but other licenses do not. The US Supreme Court has not yet passed on this. Mar 29, 2022 at 1:01
  • @DavidSiegel as I said, laws differ but the US is away from the general situation with this. For example, under UK law joint authors are the author and hold the rights collectively, meaning there must be unanimity over the exercise of the rights. legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/1988/48/section/10
    – Dale M
    Mar 29, 2022 at 1:09

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