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Re: [Fsfe-uk] Waiver of IP rights for Free Software

From: Chris Croughton
Subject: Re: [Fsfe-uk] Waiver of IP rights for Free Software
Date: Fri, 24 Oct 2008 20:11:18 +0100
User-agent: Mutt/1.5.11

On Fri, Oct 24, 2008 at 06:04:20PM +0100, sam.liddicott wrote:

> I don't have a waiver but I never heard of a contractor needing one.
> Surely by definition you do work all over the place and for all kinds of
> people and may even maintain old contracts at the weekend?

Theoretically that's true.  However, it doesn't stop them trying, my
last place they tried to force an NDA on everyone which not only said
explicitly that they claimed rights in everything you did anywhere while
you were working there but also would have meant that no one working
there could have got another job in the idustry for 6 months after
leaving!  At least there al of the contractors told them where to stuff
it and they backed down (a number of permies signed it, I believe).

> How can they claim any work other than what they contracted you to do? 

Plenty of companies do.  A friend recently got a job and on reading the
contract found that legally they even had claim on anything includer her
performing as an amateur musician!  They write these things so broadly
to try to catch everything.

> How do they even have any rights over other work to wavie?

Well, its a protection just in case.  Remember that the ordinary people
in the company can be reasonable, but when lawyers smell money it acts
like catnip.  Just look at the SCO case, everyone with any sense knew
that they didn't have a leg to stand on but the lawyers carried it for
ages (and guess who walked off with the money?).

> In the past when I have been a contractor I've informed companies that they
> will have non-exclusive rights in some libraries developed independantly of
> their work and non-exlcusive rights to enhancements made to such libraries
> for them, and that I may retain ownership. They can pay more if they want to
> keep ownershipl. I also inform them that some parts my be software deveoperd
> by 3rd parties in which they may have non-exclusive rights  blah blah

Yes, I think they will be reasonable.  After all, they do use GNU+Linux
extensively and make use of other FLOSS tools so they are familiar with
the concept of FLOSS, I think that really they only want to protect
their own development from getting out, but the language in the contract
itself is not entirely clear.

I know that in the past the FSF has said that if you work for any
employer who produces proprietary software and wish to cntribute to
FLOSS then you should have something signed by them just to make it
certain (hence the waiver which used to be there), but this doesn't seem
to be said any more.  I'd like to have it available just in case,
possibly for some other job in the future.

Chris C

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