I'm a seller with a prospective buyer for some of my source code.

I'd like to structure the transaction so as to protect each of our interests, but there's one aspect that I haven't been able to overcome: how to guard against the buyer 'changing his mind' after receiving the code for evaluation prior to payment, and then retaining a copy to use at his pleasure.

Granted there are escrow/arbitration services available aplenty, but there's a giant step between fearing that somebody might do something and suspecting that he actually DID do something. In this case it would be impossible for me to detect such a situation.

I need to concentrate on prevention rather than cure. An ounce is worth a pound.

I'm considering using Bitcoin's MultiSig feature to facilitate an escrow (related post here). Again, everything seems to be covered... except that one last niggling problem. The source code.

I suppose I could require a non-refundable deposit before delivery, but then in the event he 'changes his mind' it would amount to me handing over my IP for a lesser amount--with no guarantee that he wouldn't use it afterward.

Ideas and insight much appreciated.

EDIT: In just the few minutes since my original post, I believe I've struck upon a possible solution. Please critique.

  1. Via a screen share session I demo the program to his satisfaction
  2. With him watching, I archive the code into a single zip file
  3. With him watching, I run a SHA1 hash against the file and send him the signature
  4. He sends full payment
  5. I send the zip file
  6. The matching signature is his guarantee that I've performed

Can you see a way that this doesn't protect everyone's interests?

p.s. If I'm off-topic with this would you kindly recommend an appropriate venue.

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