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re: Devs don't want to be owned VIEW POST


I agree with you 110%. But I wanted to also link to the other perspective.

Joel on Software - Developer Side Projects


Thanks, and it is good to point that out. Any developer who is offended at the notion of their employer having ownership of their side projects should simply not take the job and choose to work with people who don't take explicit measures to own their free time.

This is a capitalist system with free choice, and we have the right to execute that choice


I agree. I do tend to work on unrelated things in my free time, so I definitely don't want to work for anyone who tries to own my side work.

I guess the linked article just points out that employees can be sue-happy jerks too, and the agreements most business force you to sign are to defend against that even if they don't want to own your free time. It's a pretty crappy situation that greedy, short-sighted people (both employers and employees) have ruined for people of good will. At the end of the day it is a matter of finding the right fit with the right company.

I've been fortunate to not run afoul of corporate lawyers in my side work. Although the fact that I haven't made any money off it probably ensures that. But I don't anticipate any problems even if I did based on the people I worked with.

Yeah, it's definitely a people thing. I could tell from my interview that the guy interviewing me just wasn't a decent human being. Heck, I might even sign something for posterity if I knew I was dealing with good people, or if there were some caveat about my idea not competing directly with their core business. Fine.

It's too bad he soured the tone of our very first conversation and gave off a bad smell that made me run miles in the other direction.

Good for you! I'm sorry that employer doesn't understand. I just don't want folks stepping into possible parts if it's related to the business, which is fair. I probably would have done the same thing as you. I feel uneasy when folks want to own my IP to that level, it makes me feel very uncomfortable.

I make clear distinctions between the business and my stuff. My stuff is random... very random. I work on work stuff on their laptop that they provide and they make it that way that you have to. I have clever IT folks knowing how to use tech to make clear distinctions on intention and usage.

However, I do cross pollinate when you learn something new about teams, or work, or coding something, which is fair game, IMHO.


My current contract says that I can work on side projects (and own them) but I need to get approval from the company first, to guarantee they are not related to our actual product. I find this to be a good compromise that prevents such legal complications while still allowing developers to work on their side projects.


In my opinion it is a bit weird that something like that is even in your contract, as you probably already have something like a confidentiality part in that same contract.

I get where the company is coming from, but it is not reasonable enough for me. I mean, are you in reality actually asking approval for every side project you have in you your own free time?

If on the other hand the company provides time for you to work on side projects, then it definitely is reasonable :p


I would be careful, but if they say something about "your time" and stuff like that in relation to what you just said... be weary. If it's to confirm a non-compete clause that sounds alright to me. I signed a non-compete in relation to this sort of stuff and it seemed reasonable to me, so I did so.

However, if they start talking about time, resources, your time in the office (while you're a 9 to 5 or 10 till 6... well you get it -- standard employ), I would be careful. Use your good judgement.

I'm famous for not being owned... I found it really crippling. I need a lot more autonomy than normal, I think, but I'm not sure.

Oh, and I'm not sure if I have to write this... this is just random thoughts from a dev, not a lawyer. Definitely not a lawyer.

This is project-based, not time-based. Sometimes I have to work on company code off the clock - and it's still theirs.

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