[Ilugc] Employee Agreement of a FOSS company

Steve steve at lonetwin.net
Fri Dec 5 16:42:55 IST 2008


 On Thu  4/12/08  3:01 PM , Atanu Datta lfyedit2 at efyindia.com sent:
> On Thursday 04 December 2008 14:51:15 Kenneth Gonsalves wrote:
> > On Thursday 04 Dec 2008 1:59:15 pm Rahul
> Sundaram wrote:> > The implication of being a FOSS company is
> that, there is a culture of> > doing exactly this. The default choice
> would be to make everything> > public.
> >
> > cool - so there would not be any NDAs? Do the
> employees have to hand over> the copyright of the open sourced code to the
> company?
> Yes, I'm also interested in knowing who owns the copyright--the company or
> the coder? As some free software does carry a tag of copyrighted by the vendor
> rather than an individual or a group of individuals. So, how is it decided
> whether a project should be a copyright of the FOSS company the coder is
> working for, or the coder's copyright instead?

I have to admit, I find this discussion a bit amusing. It's like a lot of high nosed psudeo-intellectual talk without any real substance. Anyway, here is why I thing so:

a. Kenneth's assertion that an open source company "will not last for more than 5 minutes. " is based on the premise that in an open source company, is one where all the code produce ought to be open souced, in which case "neither the employer nor the employee get anything out of the code in terms of IPR." ....but that's the fallacy. Firstly, open source companies like Red Hat, don't make money out of their *IPR* (whatever that is supposed to mean). Secondly, I don't see why every bit of code that a company produced should be open sourced to qualify it as an open source company. Isn't it sufficient to open source every bit of code for every binary bit that the company distributes in the open ? ...I believe Red Hat does this.

b. NDAs do not apply just to code. As an ex-Red Hat employee, i remember signing a contract where some of the terms of agreement did sound like limiting the extent to which i could communicate things that were considered as company confidential, but none of these IIRC had anything to do with source code. Does that make the Red Hat contract a freedom-crushing NDA ? I didn't think so.

c. Does it really matter who owns the copyright of an open souce code base ? really, think about it ...in practical terms, what are you (as an individual) do with copyright ? If something is GPLed, and you disagree with your company, you quit and fork ...you own the copyright of the fork. If copyright needs to be asserted (for example in the court), I'd rather have my company do it for me, that fight it out myself. Isn't that why even the FSF requests copyright assignment ?


...how is that different than a for profit company requesting the same ?

gah ! like I said, this thread is trying too hard to be deeply intellectual, but it isn't.

just saying .... :)
- steve 

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