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Anyone can participate in open source. That's not correct - plenty of employment contracts lay claim to any contributions, which means the projects can't accept them.

Let me quite honest and say that if someone Agnes an employment contract, as a developer, that prevents them from writing unrelated code in their spare time or lays claim to any code written outside of the office, that person is an idiot. I'm not a developer and on every company I've been with in the past 10 or so years I've gotten something in writing or marked up my contract/employee agreement stating that in no way does the company have rights to anything I develop on my personal time. I'm fully willing to accept restrictions in specific technologies if it directly competes with the core business of the employer but only under very specific circumstances.

I totally agree with the sentiment here, that such contracts that lay claim to your IP that you develop on your own automatically belongs to the company. I hate that and I've actually rejected offers in the past because of that reason exactly. I also think that if you could get a high profile enough case with that as the focal point, you could probably have such a thing declared illegal, and then establish precedent that could be used to invalidate the whole, "we own you AND your thoughts" corporate thinking. Or so I hope :)

Congrats, you've called everyone working at Google an idiot :-)


But it is. Anyone can participate. It's a choice, just like the choice to sign the employment contract.

Which is why my current employement contract has an addadendum that exempts my leisure-time open-source contributions from any claims by my employer. Despite the fact that their default contract has some harsher restrictions/non-compete clauses/claims of code-owernship, this was absolutely no problem to negotiate. Admittedly this is easier in an SMB like I'm currently working for, but still.

The company I work for recently told me that all of my patches to open source projects we use can be contributed back, under my name as work for hire by the company under the original license (no projects I've got patches for are under a contributor license of any sort, so no issues there).

This has made me extremely happy, and means that in the future I can point towards those patches that were posted as proof of work I have done.

Employment contracts don't dictate what you can write in the privacy of your own home on a non-employer-owned machine and what you subsequently do with it. (Of course non-compete clauses can kick in if you're working on Oracle DB and contribute to Postgres, but there are always other OSS projects where that little restriction doesn't apply.)

The sad thing is man, some DO. I've personally seen contracts with clauses like this:

"Any code, materials, designs, patents, design patterns or other such intellectual property ("IP") created by candidate is automatically and immediately assigned, irrevocably, to Employer upon its creation without further consideration."

The legality of this withstanding, I'm just letting you know, from experience, I've seen this approach in LOTS of contracts. I've learned the hard way that just because something is illegal or unenforceable doesn't mean that a company won't TRY to get away with it anyway. Often times, they do, because "the little guy" doesn't have over $100k to pay for an attorney.

Thanks for the reply, I guess I underestimated the tricks companies try. I'd like to see it get tested in court, I want to doubt they would uphold one's ability to sign off one's brain to someone else. I know schools have similar clauses but they usually specify something like "...created by candidate using school equipment or resources", which is understandable. It's interesting to consider that not specifying means you could create something on Mars and the company would own it.

Anyway, I'll shift my stance to lusis'. My eyes would pop out if I ever saw that in a contract offered to me.

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