[Project_owners] Copyright belongs to employer

John Dobbins john at brandxcomputers.com
Sat Nov 15 12:42:03 EST 2003

Thomas Thurman wrote:

>On Sat, Nov 15, 2003 at 12:15:55PM +0100, Ben Bucksch wrote:
>>Yeah. Some people in NYC (not California) claim that whatever program 
>>you write, *even in your free time, at home*, is owned by your employer 
>>(if you are a programmer). Check your contracts for that, too.
>>I am not aware of such legislation in Europe.
>I worked as a programmer in England and my contract required this. I don't
>know whether the provision was legally valid, but the contract certainly
>said it. I just requested letters of exemption for each program.
>(Actually, the way it was worded would have meant that even if I was
>writing a novel on my own time, the copyright would have belonged to the
>company. I think that's pretty daft, but no less daft than claiming
>unrelated software.)
A Contract is as binding as your ability to challenge it in court. If 
you lack the resources to hire an attorney that is well versed in this 
area of the law (which is a catagory that most of us are in) your 
chances of beating your employer in court are small.

You certainly aren't helping your case that it is indepedant software if 
you use any resources supplied by your empolyer, do any of the coding on 
your empoyer's time, or code a free version that will compete with a 
commerical version that you are being paid to develop. It's also a good 
idea not to use the free software you are coding while at work because 
that gives them another way of claiming it under some contracts. Under 
my last contract I was required to turn over ownership of any software I 
developed that was used in procedures that the company adopted.

John Dobbins

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