February 18, 2001

Who owns the code?

Wow, a decent article on Slashdot regarding the company/employee code ownership swamp. (It's decent reading at +2, anyway.) Joel Spolsky also has a good article on the related issue of NDAs and the like.

This sort of thing is quite scary. I've had two experiences with this, neither of them terrible but both with potential. Going into detail would probably be a bad thing, but let's just say the terms of the agreement were quite broad in saying who I could not work for after leaving the company.

The scary thing to me is that *people* actually write up these documents without thinking about how it might apply to them. One of the /. posters made the excellent point that lawyers would never sign an agreement which made their experience in a particular type of case law property of the firm under which they gained the experience. But these same lawyers seem to have no problem drawing up agreements for software developers which say, for instance, that all experience and knowledge learned regarding customer relation management or other broad topic is property of the company and the signee is strictly forbidden from working at a company which might employ that experience.

The thing they have on their side is that nobody wants to get involved with a lawsuit -- it's expensive and brands you forever as some sort of rabble-rouser. Quite the chilling effect....

In (mostly) fun news: rewriting the packaging system for OpenInteract to dump the GDBM stuff. Should have done this quite some time ago, but it's quite a bit of work. (So much that I should really be doing other things right now...)

Finally saw "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon" this weekend. Some amazing scenes and scenery. Well worth it, altho it would have been nice at a better theater.

(Originally posted elsewhere)

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