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@snake5: random employment contract question - how common in your experience is it that companies sneak in the “we own everything you do” clause, and have you tried/succeeded in removing it before signing?
@chris.j.ross2000: @jeff_hanna Thanks
@marydenman: I have seen the “we own everything that you do while you are here or you do with our equipment” pretty commonly
And the non compete clauses
"we own everything that you do while you are here or you do with our equipment" that’s a more narrow, acceptable version
good to know that it’s also common
though in this case I’m curious about the unconditional version
@marydenman: like if I was gonna make a mobile game at home on my own time with my own equipment, I’d have to go to HR and do a whole thing, since we directly compete in that market
but EA is in errthing
@chris.j.ross2000: @snake5 If I am an employee, working on their time with their equipment, I expect them to own everything. If I am a contractor, I expect them to own the deliverables unless otherwise stated. I don’t think I’ve ever done it differently
@marydenman: Yah, for a contractor, I would imagine the paperwork would be different, since most companies have to legally not treat them as employees unless they wanna pay benefits
@snake5: @chris.j.ross2000 cool, sounds somewhat hopeful
so nobody here has encountered a “we own everything you created during employment” clause?
@gamato: I’ve not encountered, but I have seen some places that will do that
@benjia: i’ve seen it
past 2 jobs had it
@mary: @snake5 I have one of those clauses with my contract as well
but i can get projects approved and work on them on my own time
@benjia: actually maybe just the first, but i’ve definitely seen it, it’s not that uncommon (maybe just in the UK)
@snake5: hm, interesting
@chris.j.ross2000: @snake5 I’m aware of companys that request everything you make, though I haven’t worked for any. Some go as far as owning everything you make including 3 months after your employment, but I think there was a debate over whether or not that was legal. I believe Disney owns everything you make throughout employment, not sure. Most engineering company’s I know have this kind of rule. They have incentives to get you to still make things in your spare time, but they don’t really work.
@snake5: I see
so has anyone here tried to get that clause removed (and possibly reclaim copyrights of things produced in spare time)? it’s something I’m going to try, wondering about my chance of success and legal options in case of failure
@bob.w: I know folks who have had it removed
one friend basically explained he already had X projects going, and he wasn’t about to hand those over to the company, so he got the clause removed.
@snake5: sounds like this was before signing, right?
@snake5: I wonder if it’s easier or harder to do after failing to do it before signing
@bob.w: if you’re wanting to amend the contract after the fact, you’ll probably have to go through HR / legal. Probably much easier to amend before signing.
@snake5: yeah, not worried about going through anyone, just the chance of success and whether they could potentially benefit from the situation somehow
anyway, since I’m getting more and more specific (and more unlikely to get answers), just wanted to say thanks about all the answers so far, the state of the industry sounds quite hopeful in general (in case I end up looking for a job elsewhere )
@dangrover: One thing that gets a little complicated - and I’ve got around this by simply ignoring it - is when I spend work time to improve (and then use) a script I made in my own spare time. For example I have a script that exports pointcloud data out of Nuke and into Max, and I’ve updated it since working for my current employer. Do they own… the changes? All of it? None of it? Who knows.
@snake5: whatever they own, it’s probably limited to changes and the whole new version, and I’m very unsure about the latter (otherwise one could say that all contributing corporations own the parts of the linux kernel that they have modified etc.), old version should be strictly off limits
@bob.w: Everyone who has contributed work to the linux kernel owns that work.
It however is contributed under the GPL license, which gives others the right to use that work under the terms specified in the license
So one way of dealing with the, “I wrote this for myself, but am using it at work” situation, is release it under an open source license, and then contribute any changes back to the project under the same license. (If your work allows for that kind of thing)
@snake5: that’s another thing I’m wondering about
if they own the copyright, do you have the power to release it under any license?
@bob.w: Depending on how the project is structured, that could be a yes or no. If the have a CLA (contributor license agreement) that states you’ve turned the copyright over to the project, or some other entity. Then yes, the work could get released under a different license. Otherwise, the project would need to contact every contributor and get their sign-off on re-licensing the work. I believe VLC had to do this a few years ago.
But code that you’ve written and contributed, you can license that code under any license you want
as long as you hold the copyright on it
Take all of this with a legal grain of salt, as I’m not a lawyer, just a crazy idiot who has read a bunch on the subject
Also copyright varies subtly between nations, so what might be quite legal in one place, is fuzzy and weird in another.
@snake5: ok well, sounds like I don’t have the legal option to create open-source projects then
@bob.w: Yeah, you can’t release someone else’s code under an open source license, at least not without their permission
@snake5: well I wrote the code
the job just happens to have the copyright
I’ve got a bunch of code wrapped up like that, that I’d love to be able to open source
Some of it, I’ll probably just write a new version one of these days
@snake5: is asking to get copyright back not an option for you?
@bob.w: I could ask, but its tied up across multiple projects, so multiple owners
The red tape is huge.
We had looked into open sourcing some of the stuff back when i worked on the project, and i think that inquiry is still ongoing
so it would be years before I could get an answer
@bob.w: most of what I can remember wanting again, I could rewrite in much less time. Plus this time I can probably create newer more interesting bugs
having written hundreds of thousands of lines, I probably won’t want to rewrite them ever again
@bob.w: Oh yeah, rewriting the same thing over and over again is dumb.
@phil: interesting topic to follow…
@theodox: If you’re a freelancer it’s a really good idea to keep your private code under copyright using a permissive license like MIT and keep it all on github. Then if you make changes while under contract you submit the fixes (either as yourself or using and in-house address) but the arrangement is clearly “Company X licensed this from me” and the ownership is clear. You may need to let them claim copyright on their portions – but since (with MIT anyway) that just means they get their name in the credits.
In your capacity as project maintainer it’s easy to keep things clear.
And If they object to open-sourcing the code, they just get a private fork that they own (with your copyright protected)
This used to be harder to negotiate but its become common enough that most companies will meet you halfway… as long as you don’t GPL things.