To: Mike, Jerry et al.
From: Bob Leif
The entire US intellectual property law when it comes to the development of
software or inventions is a mess. For instance, inventors are the one
occupation singled out in the US constitution. Ben Franklin probably was
looking out for his interests. However, the rights of inventors in the US
vs their employers are joke. The German law is much better.
It is obvious to the readers of this list that the public interest would be
benefited by eliminating the slave contracts for software developers,
inventors, and other creative individuals. The very same reasons that these
contracts were declared invalid for the actors and athletes are sufficient
for us. Standard corporate practices provide monopoly advantages for
intellectual property. The elimination of these standard contract clauses
would also provide a very strong disincentive to forcing employees to take
Historically, the membership of the intellectual professions started with
the medieval monks. I suspect that many of you do not believe that your
profession should require vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience.
Frankly, I am against all three.
Yours, Bob Leif
At 06:29 PM 1/10/98 -0500, you wrote:
>> Most contracts over here specify that the employer owns everything his
>> employee writes, regardless of any circumstances.
>That is, from where I sit, outrageous. We are programmers and writers,
>not slaves. They do not own us and it is ridiculous for employers
>to assume they can control our nights and weekends and vacations.
>A job is not indentured servitude; employers get away with this
>because we let them get away with it. It is fine with me for
>companies to prevent conflicts of interest - obviously no company
>wants its employees to compete with it after hours. But this is
>VERY different from asserting ownership of our after-hours work.
>> Although I have special permission to publish small educational
>> programs, it is currently a major stumbling block in getting an 'Ada
>> programming for NT' book on the road.
>I realize I sit in a very different position from non-academics,
>but academic organizations typically go to great lengths to clarify
>conflict-of-interest regulations, and damn well understand the
>difference between conflicts and intellectual property ownership.
>My own employer has an elaborate document that details not only
>this difference, but sets out some very careful internal procedures
>to resolve alleged violations by employees.
>I'd have to be pretty desperate for a job to sign away my rights to
>do whatever I please after hours, as I long as I do not compete with
>my employer. Faced with such a clause in a contract, I would cross it
>out and initial the change, and walk away if my would-be employer refused
>to allow the change. Good people will find good jobs with good employers.
>I have walked away from some interesting consulting contracts
>because I simply would not accept their absurd contract terms.
>In one recent case, the client insisted not only on a non-disclosure
>clause (reasonable and expected) and a non-conflict clause (generally OK),
>but also a requirement that _I_ disclose my other clients to _them_.
>I crossed out the clause, saying that if I disclosed this, I would
>violate _other_ clients' nondisclosures! They had some nerve to
>demand this from me. I figured it was boilerplate and they would
>agree to cross it out.
>Surprise! The bureaucrats refused to accept the change. I walked away.
>Oddly, this brilliant company explained that if I were a _company_
>instead of an individual, they would allow the company to keep its
>other clients' names confidential. Bizarre. Truly bizarre.
>You'd recognize the name of the company, but my lips are sealed.:-)
>> -- Jerry van Dijk | Leiden, Holland
>> -- Consultant | Team Ada
>> -- Ordina Finance | [log in to unmask]