Intellectual Property

I think it’s a shame that it’s almost impossible to get a job without signing over all my ideas to a single company.

I’m a software developer, and most software companies want their employees to sign an agreement that says any work they produce while at the company is owned by the company (even ideas thought up during one’s own spare time).  An analogue in another industry would be when the people who develop the formula for some type of soda or the recipe for some type of food leave the company, those ideas remain the property of the company.  It may sound like common sense if you’re the consumer outside the company, but if you’re the person inside the company who spent time and passion developing the idea then you might feel taken advantage of.

“But you’re getting paid.” you might say.  Yes, the person with the idea is getting paid once, but the idea can be used many, many times by the company.

“But the company is taking all the risk.  The idea may never pay off.” you might say.  That’s true, but my using the idea somewhere else should not interfere with the company’s ability to use the idea.  It’s an idea.  It’s intangible.  It can be used an infinite number of times by anyone, and it will never run out.  The only reason this doesn’t currently work is because of a flaw of capitalism, which requires companies to compete with each other in order to acquire more funding, wasting time and effort re-inventing the wheel behind closed doors when they could all benefit from that same wheel design.  It’s a shame that this need to get more rich than someone else is what motivates people, and I hate that such a corrupt system interferes with my ability to further evolve my art and self-expression and survive at the same time.

– When I create something, I would really like to share it with the whole world so that as many people as possible can benefit from it. –

“But it’s not your self-expression.  You were influenced by other people at the company.” you might say.  Actually, I’ve found over the years that most of my ideas come from the Internet and books, and those people are never directly compensated.  All the company I work for is effectively doing is initially providing me with a business loan in order to fund my research and development efforts and later paying me my own money back that they acquired by selling the work I produced.  Even if an idea I use does come from a co-worker, I see that co-worker as an individual, so his/her idea being lent to me should still belong to him/her, not the company.  I do not subscribe to the capitalist slave mentality.

A while ago, I came up with my own employment agreement that says I may choose to apply an open source license to any source code I produce while working at a company.

I chose the MIT License as my open source license of choice because I’m very fond of individual freedom.  I guess the GPL is the most popular, but I don’t want to tell people they have to be open source.  Telling people they must do something is against my nature.  My opposition to authority is not purely self-serving.

The agreement is below.  I haven’t gotten anyone to agree to it, and I’m not sure I ever will as I am now unemployed and broke.

Reusable Open Source Libraries

Superseding any other agreement or discussions oral or written and superseding any implicit or explicit work-for-hire agreement, while creating software for the other party named below or the organization he/she represents, the software developer (also named below) may choose to make any source code file he/she creates based on his/her own knowledge and experience and/or publicly available information subject to the open source license in the italicized text below.  Such source code may be created anywhere, at any time, using any equipment and will remain the intellectual property of the software developer (but may be freely reused by the other party named below or the organization he/she represents).  The software developer must place the open source license text at the top of such a file, at the time the file is made available to the other party named below or the organization he/she represents, in order to indicate this choice.

This agreement applies only to source code files created by the software developer.  Source code files that were created by another individual and later merely enhanced by the software developer are excluded from this agreement.

Copyright (c) <year> <software developer’s name>, <software developer’s company name>

Permission is hereby granted, free of charge, to any person obtaining a copy of this software and associated documentation files (the “Software”), to deal in the Software without restriction, including without limitation the rights to use, copy, modify, merge, publish, distribute, sublicense, and/or sell copies of the Software, and to permit persons to whom the Software is furnished to do so, subject to the following conditions:

The above copyright notice and this permission notice shall be included in all copies or substantial portions of the Software.

THE SOFTWARE IS PROVIDED “AS IS”, WITHOUT WARRANTY OF ANY KIND, EXPRESS OR IMPLIED, INCLUDING BUT NOT LIMITED TO THE WARRANTIES OF MERCHANTABILITY, FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE AND NONINFRINGEMENT. IN NO EVENT SHALL THE AUTHORS OR COPYRIGHT HOLDERS BE LIABLE FOR ANY CLAIM, DAMAGES OR OTHER LIABILITY, WHETHER IN AN ACTION OF CONTRACT, TORT OR OTHERWISE, ARISING FROM, OUT OF OR IN CONNECTION WITH THE SOFTWARE OR THE USE OR OTHER DEALINGS IN THE SOFTWARE.

The text of this license was based on:

 http://www.opensource.org/licenses/mit-license.php
 (The MIT License)

Agreed to by:

Name (printed):     ______________________________

Signature:     ______________________________     Date: __________

Name (printed):     ______________________________

Signature:     ______________________________     Date: __________

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About Matthew Chiglinsky

I try to question everything.
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