Intellectual Property

I was reading an article in a computing newspaper the other day (can’t remember which one) about problems with Linux and open source software in general. The article says that if you are employed, any work you do, whether in office or out of office hours in the field of your profession automatically becomes the IP of your employer. As an example, if you were employed as an programmer and decided to write a computer program at home, that software would become the IP of your employer even if you didn’t spend any time at work working on it.

Strictly this would mean you have no right to open source your software without the express permission of your employer. Apparently this is a big problem with open source software and would mean OSS development is only really open to students and hobbyists.

The rule seems kind of unfair although it does also make sense – if you were a rocket scientist and you designed a new rocket in your spare time, the chances are you would have spent some time at work thinking about or researching it, and it can be considered as overtime. I’m no lawyer but perhaps it’s one of these out-dated laws which need to be updated to take into account new technologies and the internet.

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