Last year I worked for a company that did mobile apps. A couple of months after I started to work there I told my boss it would be a good idea to start doing web sites to sell in a bundle with the apps, and he thought it was a good idea. Since then until I left the job at the start of the year I was the sole designer and programmer of all the web sites, except one or two projects where another designer joined in.

I want to start freelancing and create a very small creative studio, and I would put those works in the portfolio to show the work that I can do, but I'm not sure if it could bring problems (ethically and legally speaking). I haven't sign any type of work contract with the company so I assume that what I did there is mine, but I'm not so sure.

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    This question is not strictly workplace-related. You could post it to Freelancing to get better answers than here. – cst1992 May 18 '16 at 5:25
  • @Leia - legal questions are off-topic on this site. – user8365 May 18 '16 at 18:52
  • Why don't you just get permission from your current job to be able to put copies of what you built into a portfolio? – user8365 May 18 '16 at 18:58
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    @jeffo I'll edit that part out then, but I have read a lot of other question on this site and half the time someone mentions the legal aspect of the topic been ask about, that's why I thought it was OK to ask – Leia May 18 '16 at 18:58
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    @Leia asking legal questions have no place here. However offered Solutions can be directions towards legal and things like contracts are legal, but quite often have a place in the workplace. Also in the future try and add your Country tag, as it is important. – Raoul Mensink May 19 '16 at 8:27

Normally anything you are paid to do, belongs to the company. But I suggest you ask your old boss if you are on good terms with him/her to see what they think. Possibly they might not mind at all, in which case problem solved.

If they do have an issue with it then at least you know their standpoint on the matter and can move forwards from there.

For example I'm quite happy for my former staff to reference and even show projects that they did under me, so long as they don't try and sell it or pretend they own it. It's good advertising for my projects as well as benefiting them.

  • "Normally anything you are paid to do, belongs to the company." You cannot assume that without knowing which country she is from. – Apfelsaft May 18 '16 at 17:17
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    @Apfelsaft Why not? Is there some country where companies pay you to develop stuff for yourself? – Kilisi May 18 '16 at 19:45
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    I don't know, because I am not familiar with the laws of all 193 countries. Are you? – Apfelsaft May 19 '16 at 6:23
  • @Apfelsaft Not to break your Juice box, but "Normally anything you are paid to do, belongs to the company." is something you can assume, in rare cases this is not the Default. And as far as I know Argentina is no exeption. – Raoul Mensink May 19 '16 at 8:24

This would entirely depend on the contract that you had with your employer. If your employment contract allowed you to maintain copyright of the works you created OR it allowed you to maintain "creation" claims then you are free and clear to go ahead and use the work in your portfolio.

HOWEVER if your contract did not expressly grant you permission to do that, or worse, claimed ownership and copyright of works you did for them while under their employ, you will be violating that contract and possibly the copyright agreement.

Your best course of action is to simply contact your boss and ask. In doing so I would make an offer that you list the work as having been done while working for his company as a collaborative work done by you and your coworkers (or the company owner). Even if you did all of the actual creation of the jobs, since you were working for someone else, it is somewhat of a collaboration. If you didn't mention the previous employer in your own portfolio it could cause a number of problems. Specifically it would be confusing for someone who saw your portfolio with your work listed as yours and then your employer's portfolio with the exact same work listed as theirs. Giving attribution to your employer for the client's work will alleviate those issues.

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    I haven't sign any contract, that's why I have my doubts about the ownership of the work. I think listing my work there as a collaboration is a good idea, though. – Leia May 18 '16 at 18:21
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    Without a contract I would tread vary lightly. Obviously the true test will be with someone who understands the copyright law in your country. I know that if you were in the US and you worked as an employee (and not a contractor) you do not have ownership rights and can not post your work without permission. Either way I urge you to contact your previous employer with the collaborative position and see what they say. – LindsayMac May 18 '16 at 18:25

As long as you only reference to existing websites and app-downloads which are accessable by public, it shouldn't be a problem. If you want to show code and other project files you have to ask the boss of your previous company for permission.

  • That could still be a Problem, seeing as he is makeing Claims and that might not sit well with his former company – Raoul Mensink May 18 '16 at 12:01
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    He doesn't claim that he owns the site. Just that he created it. – Otto V. May 18 '16 at 12:06
  • That is still A Claim is it not? – Raoul Mensink May 18 '16 at 12:12
  • @RaoulMensink Well he can say he did it. It just can get complicated if he has to prove it. – Otto V. May 18 '16 at 12:15
  • I'm a "She", why assume I'm not if I have a female user name?, but well not the first time that happens, and certainly not the last :P. About the claims, I have mails talking with my boss about the work and all the original code of the projects, in fact, I don't think they even have that, because I'm almost sure they formatted my computer when I left. – Leia May 18 '16 at 18:12

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