Freeing my code... need some guidance

Ben Tilly btilly at
Sun Jan 11 18:07:42 UTC 2009

On Sun, Jan 11, 2009 at 9:31 AM, Simon <turner25 at> wrote:
> Ben Tilly wrote:
>> (This is part of the reason that I now choose to live in California
>> where what I do in my own time belongs to me and can't be signed away.
>>  I firmly believe that this fact is a key factor in the success of
>> Silicon Valley.)
> Very neat!  So you mean that a programmer in California can program on his
> own and keep all rights for his personal work?  If that's the case, I
> wouldn't be surprised there is a lot of contributors to GPL code in that
> region!

That is absolutely the case.  And it has huge implications.  For
example it is a common story that programmers will get together nights
and weekends to put together proof of concept for a startup, then quit
their day job to get the new company going.  Lots of companies in
Silicon Valley started this way, for example Cisco and eBay.  (Cisco's
founding was actually significantly messier than this, see for details.)  OTOH I know
people who lived outside of California who tried this and got told by
their employer, "We own that, hand it over."  The result?  No startup.
 Nobody will ever know how many startups have ended this way, or be
able to estimate the economic cost of it.

Whenever I hear about efforts in places like New York to encourage
startups to form, I have to giggle.  Because it is obvious to me that
they are shooting themselves in the foot with bad intellectual
property law, but they are utterly blind to it.


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