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I have done many small programming gigs for random people I met online. Now, I want to use their websites in my portfolio.

I know the safest answer would be "just ask for consent first". However, I am no longer in touch with these people and emailing them would be very embarrassing due to some personal reasons.

This is my plan:

Go to their websites, take screenshots of the respective homepages and post those images on my website along with their url's.

I'll mark it simply as "projects I have contributed to". I was also going to mention what exactly I contributed to the project, but maybe these people don't want that information public.

Again, I know the safest answer is "just ask". However, I just want to know what all I can post legally on my website without getting in trouble. (Obviously, I did not sign NDA or have any informal NDA, otherwise I would not be asking this question.)

  • Does your contract with the clients allow you to showcase their websites in your portfolio? – Chris Forrence Aug 6 '14 at 12:31
  • @ChrisForrence No such contract. In fact, there was no contract. Just few emails back and forth. – Test Aug 6 '14 at 13:01
  • @user3692125 a contract doesn't have to be typed on headed paper, it's likely a contract technically did exist since you entered a commercial agreement, however that contract never listed anything beyond the basic terms, so your point stands. – Chris Aug 14 '14 at 15:15
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If you haven't signed an NDA, and have no contract in place for the work that mentions this, then posting the work on your site would seem to be fair use. I would also infer that there is no obvious legal obligation either way here.

If the client does have an objection then they can request you remove the images. I believe the worst case scenario here would be a letter from a lawyer requesting you remove the content.

Obviously if you can contact your clients to get specific permission that would be ideal but in my experience most clients will not have an issue with you featuring their sites in your portfolio, the exception to this being venture funded startups who are often more sensitive.

Finally, regarding what information you can share about a project, if in doubt, share less. If you're a Ruby/PHP/Python developer, it's going to be fairly clear what language you were using and adding the area (admin / front-end) isn't going to give too much away.

I'd also not worry about mentioning things that someone could learn by looking at the website, such as which payment gateway is used, or which CSS framework, however would steer away from anything that might be considered proprietary, such as "we use a combination of news RSS feeds combined with Twitter mentions to calculate relevancy…".

  • What do you suggest about this part? -> "I was also going to mention what exactly I contributed to the project, but maybe these people don't want that information public." – Test Aug 6 '14 at 5:05
  • @user3692125 I've added two more paragraphs on the end, does that clarify things for you? – Chris Aug 6 '14 at 10:55

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