Freeing my code... need some guidance

Ben Tilly btilly at
Sun Jan 11 03:34:22 UTC 2009

On Sat, Jan 10, 2009 at 5:09 PM, Matthew Flaschen
<matthew.flaschen at> wrote:
> Ben Tilly wrote:
>> You don't get to dictate or bind them in any way, shape or form.  You
>> have no ownership of that code you wrote.  *Perhaps* you can convince
>> them to do what you want, but I wouldn't count on it.  Please don't
>> try to ignore this fact because if you do then you can get yourself
>> into pretty serious trouble, very quickly.
> It's true Simon needs to clear things with his employer (they almost
> certainly own the code).  However, this  is hardly impossible.  You can
> mention some of the major companies that contribute to FOSS (IBM,
> Oracle, Red Hat, Sun, even Microsoft).  Tell them the FOSS community
> will help maintain the code, while the company can still do what they
> like with it (which includes potentially not mentioning their name).
> And don't make /them/ figure out the licensing issues  Tell them "You
> should let me release this under BSD [or whatever you choose].  Here's why."

One of his desires is that his employer be bound by his license.  If
they own the software, they are unlikely to agree with that.

>> There is no point wasting time thinking about what copyright license
>> you wish to put on code you don't have copyright to.
> I disagree.  Obviously, only the employer can make the final decision.
> However, if Simon has specific licenses in mind (and reasons for them)
> when he talks to The Boss, it will be more convincing then saying, "Hey,
> maybe you should let me use one of the 72 licenses at this site."

His reasons include, "Because I want to use this in a business I am
planning to found."  Most employers won't like that reason very much.

He has to come up with a reason that is palatable to them.  For
instance, "If you let me open source this, I will be so enthusiastic
that I'll put in extra time on nights and weekends."  Which will be
true.  *But* only if he is allowed to own what he does on his own
time.  As I said before, he needs to consult a lawyer first to find
out where he stands given his contract and local laws.

On Sat, Jan 10, 2009 at 6:34 PM, Charlie Poole
<charlie at> wrote:
> Hi Ben,
>> Woah.  Back up.  Your contract says that your employer owns
>> the work you do for them.  That means, literally, that your
>> employer owns it.
>> Period.
> I found the original post ambiguous as to whether the "project"
> for which Simon developed his software was for his employer,
> or one that he had been doing on the side. Perhaps he can
> clarify.

Re-reading, I did make an assumption there.  However I note that even
if he did develop it on the side, it may still be owned by his


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