Do I need to inform my employer before contributing to an Open Source Project?

Philippe Verdy verdy_p at
Sat Jul 7 15:02:59 UTC 2007

> De : Joseph Hick [mailto:leet16y at]
> 1. i am contributing to an open source project from my
> home. the project is in no way related to my job. (at
> work, i am involved with telecommunication software,
> where as i am contributing to linux kernel). do I need
> to inform my employer before working on this open
> source project, so that all my contributions can
> remain open source?
> 3. i am creating an open source project during my
> spare time and planning to release it under GPL v3.
> work and my projects are not related.

You should inform your employer, that should be able to provide you with a
disclaimer for these projects.

> 2. same as above, but this time my contribution to
> open source and my work for employer is related.
> (writing a proprietary shell and contributing to the
> open source bash)

Bash is widely used by lots of companies, some of them may even be
competitors to your company, but I don't think that this will change
something in the competition of your company. But really, if you think it
has some relation with your work, first ask to your company, so that it can
accept to give you a disclaimer. But your company may want to appear as the
author even if your company formally accepts the GPL licence for it.

> 4. same as above but my project is closely related to
> a product of my company that i work for.

Really, I think you must not create this project and release it before
getting a formal authorization from your employer. You must inform it
because this closely related job may be a competitive risk for your company,
andyour company may want to see exactly which terms will be acceptable for
the licencing. Your company will not steal your legal authorship rights, but
be careful as this may depend on your job contract that may prohibit you to
work for other competitors during your contract, and your personal work may
be perceived as an unfair competition with your company's products.
So negociate this with your employer!

In all cases, for any project you want to do that may contain some elements
for which your company may be working on or that may be part of its
activities (even if your personnal work is not closely related to one of the
current projects of your company), it costs you nothing to ask andnegociate
with it before risking your job, or other penalties.

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