My job consists of making software ordered by clients: they supply me with the specifications of what they want and I programme it. I would like to know if the clients can be defined as co-authors and can claim rights. If this is the case, how can I prevent it?

In such cases, the owner of the economical rights of exploitation of the programme is the client commissioning the work and who paid the programmer for it. If the client restricts himself to describing what he wants, but does not participate to the programming, I don’t think he can be considered a co-author, unless his intervention has gone beyond his initial verbal description on what to do, therefore the programmer continues to be the only author and the only one to benefit from the “moral rights”, consisting, in fact, in the possibility of being recognised as the programme’s author. Unless there are agreements to the contrary, the programmer will have the right to hold the source code and use part of the work to create other programmes for other clients, even though the commissioning client might not like this. In the case where you want to make a software to commercially exploit, the best thing to do is to draw up an agreement with the client, where it is quite clearly said what right he will have and what he will not have, stating also an escape clause over the utilization of any subsequent software. It is obvious that this will not always be possible and sometimes the client will demand to have the source code so to exclusively use the software. In these circumstances the programmer’s only weapon is the bargaining, and in any case, the price will make the difference.