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Old 01-15-2007, 08:38 AM   #1
Ynot Irucrem
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Employee contract uncertainty


Hey all,

I'm not very good at this legal stuff, but I'm starting a 3 month employment probation and I'm not sure if the contract has anything funky in there about me developing FOSS in my free time.

The part I'm concerned about is here. Sorry about not OCRing it, but all I got back from that was a heap of |||||'s, probably because of the angle.

I think basically I can only do stuff if I ask them and they say it's okay. Are they likely to do this? In any case, please let me know if I should tell them to go fsck themselves.

Thanks.
 
Old 01-15-2007, 09:40 AM   #2
Crito
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Looks like a fairly standard non-discosure and non-compete to me, but I'm not a lawyer, so take my advice as worth what you paid for it.

AFAIK, as long as whatever you're working on isn't related to anything they're doing you don't need anyone's permission. Say they sell CRM software and you write a open source OCR application; that'd be none of their business. On the other hand, if you clone their CRM prog at home, even if you rewrote the whole thing in another language and on your own time, then released it for free under the GPL, you'd probably get sued for a million bucks.
 
Old 01-15-2007, 10:14 AM   #3
XavierP
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Your best bet is to contact a lawyer who deals with this sort of thing and have him/her go over it with you. Whilst we have a great number of very knowledgeable people here, you need to get an expert's opinion on the matter - if we say "go for it" and we're wrong, it's you that will be up in court, not us.

Get proper legal advice.
 
Old 01-16-2007, 03:02 AM   #4
Ynot Irucrem
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Crisis over. I ended up flat out asking the boss if I could do FOSS, and he goes "Yeah of course, I'd actually encourage FOSS development, as it's going to improve your skill set and have benefits for us too. And we'd have absolutely no IP claim to any FOSS stuff you'd do." I doubt that's legally binding, but I've known him for a couple weeks and he seems like a nice guy.
 
Old 01-16-2007, 03:38 PM   #5
XavierP
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Get it in writing. He may be a nice guy, but he is a businessman, he didn't get to where he is by not being aware of what will bring in money to the company. Remember the old adage: a verbal contract is worth the paper it's printed on.
 
Old 01-16-2007, 05:13 PM   #6
Ynot Irucrem
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Righty-o, will do. Though I would hope it takes more than just being a business person to lie flat out to someone's face about something they obviously care so much about (I was practically shaking when I asked him this).
 
Old 01-16-2007, 06:51 PM   #7
syg00
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Australian law is very strict on this - you sign it, it's binding.
As XavierP says, get amendments included and initialled before siging on.
 
Old 01-17-2007, 12:35 AM   #8
XavierP
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Right now he's a business person, but should things start to go wrong for him, he'll become something else.

To be honest, it's good to do this for your peace of mind and to start off on the right foot. The last thing you need is for you to be happy there and suddenly start to panic when it looks like the situation is changing.

And what happens if the company gets bought out...?
 
Old 01-17-2007, 07:25 AM   #9
vharishankar
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Will you be developing this FOSS on your employers' time or your own time? I'm pretty sure in most parts of the world no employer can *legally* force you to give up work you do in your free time. But again, local laws should be consulted for this.
 
Old 01-19-2007, 07:07 AM   #10
AnanthaP
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Hari, the OP said in free time.

Nevertheless, its a minefield out there. Take an example cited above - OCR reader and CRM. Could it be construed as <Quote>... detriment to or loss of business opportunity ...<Unquote> if the company somehow integrates OCR recognition into the CRM package.

End
 
Old 01-19-2007, 04:27 PM   #11
Crito
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It could, but since his open source program would pre-date this integration, it'd be more likely his intellectual property that was stolen, not theirs.

Oh, but if they happen to "borrow" his GPL licensed code and make it closed source, he could probably get some free legal help from:

http://www.fsf.org/licensing/compliance
http://www.fsfeurope.org/
http://fsf.org.in/
http://www.fsfla.org/
http://gpl-violations.org/
http://www.softwarefreedom.org/

Just to keep the lawyers writing each other nasty letters, if nothing else.

Last edited by Crito; 01-19-2007 at 04:29 PM.
 
  


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