Wednesday, 22 June 2016

"But I'm a commercial developer / a government employee"

Following on:

Having seen some posts about this elsewhere on the 'Net:

  • Your copyright remains your own unless you assign it
  • Establish what you are being paid for: are you being paid for :
  1. Your specific area of FLOSS expertise (or)
  2. Your time / hours in an area unrelated to your FLOSS expertise (or)
  3. A job that has no impact or bearing on your FLOSS expertise (or)
  4. Your time / hours only - and negotiate accordingly
Your employer may be willing to negotiate / grant you an opt-out clause to protect your FLOSS expertise /  accept an additional non-exclusive licence to your FLOSS code / be prepared to sign an assignment e.g.

"You should also get your employer (if you work as a programmer) or your school, if any, to sign a "copyright disclaimer" for the program, if necessary. Here is a sample; alter the names:
Yoyodyne, Inc., hereby disclaims all copyright
interest in the program `Gnomovision'
(which makes passes at compilers) written 
by James Hacker.

signature of Ty Coon, 1 April 1989
Ty Coon, President of Vice"

If none of the above is feasible: don't contribute anything that crosses the streams and mingles commercial and FLOSS expertise, however much you're offered to do so.

Patents / copyrights

"In the 1980s I had not yet realized how confusing it was to speak of “the issue” of “intellectual property”. That term is obviously biased; more subtle is the fact that it lumps together various disparate laws which raise very different issues. Nowadays I urge people to reject the term “intellectual property” entirely, lest it lead others to suppose that those laws form one coherent issue. The way to be clear is to discuss patents, copyrights, and trademarks separately. See further explanation of how this term spreads confusion and bias."
 [ - footnote 8.]

If you want to assert a patent - it's probably not FLOSS. Go away :)

If you want to assert a trademark of your own - it's probably not FLOSS. Go away :)
 [Trademarks may ordinarily be outside the scope of normal FLOSS legal considerations - but should be acknowledged wherever they occur both as a matter of law and as a matter of courtesy]

Copyright gives legal standing (locus standi in the terminology of English common law) to sue for infringement - that's the basis of licence enforcement actions.

Employees of governments and those doing government work
  • Still have the right to own authorship and copyrights and to negotiate accordingly
  • May need to establish more clearly what they're being paid for
  • May be able to advise, influence or direct policy towards FLOSS in their own respective national jurisdiction
  • Should, ideally, be primariily acknowledged as individuals, holding and maintaining an individual reputation  and only secondarily as contractors/employees/others associated with government work.
  • Contribution to national / international standards, international agreements and shared working practices should be informed in the light of FLOSS work.
This is complex: some FLOSS contributors see a significant amount of this as immaterial to them in the same way that some indigenous populations do not acknowledge imposed colonial legal structures as valid - but both value systems can co-exist

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