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IBM To Kernel Maintainer: "You Are An IBM Employee 100% Of The Time"

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  • My previous job had in the contract a clause that said that any code I write in my free time is owned by the company as well.
    They didn't send me emails though, asking to take down my open source projects or contributions.

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    • Originally posted by macemoneta View Post
      I had an employer that insisted they owned every line of code I wrote, even on my own time. Some companies are not worth working for.
      Well I saw that on a contract, and struck it from it. Still got the job. Also I mentioned the clause was illegal where we were.

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      • This feels like a company trying to look better in the simple "how much each company contributes to Linux based on email address domains in commit messages" statistics, which I think phoronix might have even published every now and then.

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        • Originally posted by drjohnnyfever View Post
          Yes, it's called a job. You are free to take it or leave it.

          It's odd to me so many people feel like they should be able to dictate terms. A company can't force you to accept employment terms any more than you can force them to. And frankly that's the way it should be. Employment should be voluntary on all sides, otherwise it's... Involuntary.
          The problem is with non-compete agreements that extend beyond your employment time. I have no issue with them during employment. In countries I quoted before it is required that such agreement constitute compensation from the company due to the fact that it limits future employee job opportunities. If you, as the employer, want to limit my future job options then you should pay me for it.

          I find NCAs predatory in general, so it's nice to see that some countries have laws that limit the abuse.

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          • That is literally slavery.

            It is funny how I live in Poland and when I was a child i wanted to move to USA. And now I am like .... absolutely no.

            If someone in Poland would make such clause in contract that everything he does belongs to company, that would mean automatically you have to be paid for it, in overtime hours payment and all overtime benefits (including additional vacation leave even, and that over certain amount of hours you can absolutely rightfully refuse to work)

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            • Originally posted by reavertm View Post
              Perhaps the guy is doing kernel development not in free time but as part of his IBM job. In such case requiring him to use company email address in commit messages is the most reasonable and non-controversy.
              Originally posted by Syfer View Post
              This feels like a company trying to look better in the simple "how much each company contributes to Linux based on email address domains in commit messages" statistics, which I think phoronix might have even published every now and then.
              I keep seeing comments like these and have to ask: did you guys read the full quote, before weighing in on it?

              The employee quoted the manager saying:

              "... Please remove yourself completely from the maintainers file. I grant you a 1 time exception on contributions to VNIC to make this change."

              To me, that says the manager wants the employee to completely cease all contributions to this code. The instruction wasn't to restore their IBM address, which a previous commenter pointed out that they had been using up until a few days prior.

              That tells me that the underlying issue isn't merely about the email address, but rather something contentious the employee was trying to use their personal email address to work around.

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              • Originally posted by piotrj3 View Post
                If someone in Poland would make such clause in contract that everything he does belongs to company, that would mean automatically you have to be paid for it, in overtime hours payment and all overtime benefits
                Have a look at you contract though. It is common practice to have such a clause in the EU. But that's a way to prevent employees from becoming competitors by developing business-related stuff while employed and bring all that with you to your start-up (or competing company). It's also, and much more simply, a way to simplify intellectual property management in the company: any patent for instance will at least mention the company as beneficiary and any code you write for your job is owned by your company so you can't claim it as yours afterwards or restrict the company's use of it through licensing, etc. So pretty much every contract has them.

                It's just that some of them extends it to any time and not just work time. Part of it is purely for protection: they don't want that because you wrote some part of some important code off-hours that you claim licensing fees because you were not paid for it.

                But basically, anything beyond that, in the EU I think (France, Spain and the UK for sure) cannot be legally enforced. So no, if you start a company while still employed, on your free time, your employer can't claim anything from it. They can still fire you, don't get me wrong but they have no rights to what you created on the side.

                At least in France, Spain and in the UK, there is no case in (labour) court if no harm is done to anybody/anything. So if what you do on your free time (or employed time for that matter) does not provably hurt your employer, the absolute worse that could happen is you getting fired. Same thing applies to non-compete clause and similar.

                Of course if your new business is in direct competition with your former employer, things could get bad depending on the context.

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                • Originally posted by coder View Post
                  That tells me that the underlying issue isn't merely about the email address, but rather something contentious the employee was trying to use their personal email address to work around.
                  ^ this...

                  Though it is true we don't have the full story... For all we know that guy might just have changed department and was caught contributing to his old project during work time by his new manager and not really doing much in his new project. He's been warned 5 times already, his manager does not know what to do anymore. <-- That's a fantasy, I have no insider knowledge of what is happening.

                  Still find revolting an employer would dictate what an employee does on his free time but if it turns out "on my free time" is actually not really true, everything would still make sense.

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                  • IBM's official policy is that if you develop anything in your off hours they still own it. Notice section 3
                    https://www.ibm.com/investor/att/pdf...sible_2019.pdf

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                    • Originally posted by piotrj3 View Post
                      It is funny how I live in Poland and when I was a child i wanted to move to USA. And now I am like .... absolutely no.
                      Nowhere is perfect. It has plenty of good points, though. It's probably the only place I'd want to live other than New Zealand, Canada, or certain countries in Northern Europe.

                      Not to get political, but not everything I hear about current events in Poland (not to mention some of your southern neighbors) makes it sound like somewhere I'd want to live.

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