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To start do you have a contract with the programmer specifying that:
a. The script is their original work (not copied from elsewhere)
b. Now that you paid them for it, you own the copyright to that script
You can read more at [copyright.gov...]
"a" is correct, "b" is 100% wrong. The creator of an original work does not relinquishes their copyrights to their work unless they explicitly sign over said rights to another party. The only exception to this is when someone creates something in their capacity as an EMPLOYEE of their employer in which case the employer owns the copyright. There is a whole bunch of legal tests that must be proved to prove an employee/employer relationship.
If you want to own the copyright to the script you will need the creator of the script to agree to sign over the rights to the script, which in all likelihood will require you paying them an additional fee. The reality is that your best hope is that the creator is willing to sign over non-exclusive rights for you to make derivative works of the script.
Most designers/programmers, my self included, will not turn over exclusive rights to any code because we like to reuse code segments in other works. If we signed over exclusive rights every time we created something for a client, we would have to start from scratch every single time we started a new project, which just isn't efficient.
Looks like you posted an update while I was replying.
You will need to find a copyright release that was written by a lawyer (PM me and I can give you the URL of the site I get my Copyright releases from). Nothing is official until the creator has signed the release and turned the signed release over to you.
[edited by: KenB at 7:11 pm (utc) on Feb. 23, 2007]
Question, who designed the concept of the script? You or the programmer? While this does nothing that would affect the copyright issue you are discussing above it would be interesting to know. I have designed the concept of a few web sites and the scripts or database applications they used and simply paid my programmer to write in code what I had already developed conceptually and found the market for and hence would sell after it was developed.
I did as stated above which was to get them to sign an agreement that owned the finished product and could sell, transfer, etc. my interest in this site and/script.