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Developing OpenG while working for a company

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I am interested in helping in developing OpenG. My problem is that I work for a company that automatically owns everything I do. I plan on making an agreement with them so that I can develop open source. I am an engineer, not a lawyer. Is there any advice for what should or should not be in such an agreement and any specific wording to be aware of?

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Well. The glib answer is find a company that doesn't implement slavery (we own you, everything you do, everything you think and everything your cat thinks!). But pragamatically I don't think there is a particular recipe because it depends (on which country, who they are, whats in your contract, whether you used their resources etc).

Perhaps this will at least point you towards the right questions and some of the issues involved.

http://answers.onsta...-st/20136#20136

I've generally found, most companies don't care until you produce something they want. So they would let you do it then want to take ownership citing your contract etc. In terms of contracts, the bit in your contract that says they own you has to be mitigated, but that may be an "unfair contract" clause in some western countries anyway.

The biggest problem with LabVIEW is that not many people can afford to buy the software outside of thier working environment (the classic arguement for stating ownership). But I understand some people have negotiated with thier emplyoyers that the employer buys the software for them rather than the company (and they keep the license when they leave). However. I would hardly say that was usual.

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I am interested in helping in developing OpenG. My problem is that I work for a company that automatically owns everything I do. I plan on making an agreement with them so that I can develop open source. I am an engineer, not a lawyer. Is there any advice for what should or should not be in such an agreement and any specific wording to be aware of?

Just to clarify -are you saying that they own everything you do at work or in your personal time as well?

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Just to clarify -are you saying that they own everything you do at work or in your personal time as well?

I would have to go look at the agreement again, but I believe they own anything I do, even what is done in personal time. Well, there's also the discussion of whether or not my company thinks I truely have personal time (they can call me in for test failures at any time of the day or night), but that's another issue.

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Depends on where you live but I don't think a company has the ability to claim ownership of work you do on you own time and on your own pc. NI's licensing allows you to install LV on a home comp... frankly I'd encourage employees to do that and work on side projects in their spare time. It improves their skills and doesn't cost the company anything.

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I expect that my company can make a claim to the things I've done in the LAVA CR, but I've already released them to the community and you can't unring a bell. :D

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NI's licensing allows you to install LV on a home comp... frankly I'd encourage employees to do that and work on side projects in their spare time. It improves their skills and doesn't cost the company anything.

Do you mean that I can use the same license that I use at work on my own personal computer?

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Do you mean that I can use the same license that I use at work on my own personal computer?

Under the Volume License Agreement, each developer is allowed a single home license. A license file needs to be created through the license manager that can then be installed on your home computer.

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If I'm not mistaken it's quite normal for companies in the US to claim all products of a employee. [citation needed]. Some discussion here.

I've never dealt with this since my employer isn't interested in the code I generally write as Open Source. There are some statements in our CAO (collective working agreement) but so vague that both the parties can make a valid claim.

Ton

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Under the Volume License Agreement, each developer is allowed a single home license. A license file needs to be created through the license manager that can then be installed on your home computer.

oh, good to know!

been trying to get into Object Oriented but I just don't have the time for it at work

Edited by BramJ

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oh, good to know!

been trying to get into Object Oriented but I just don't have the time for it at work

All the NI licenses allow installation on a home computer. This is the "trap" that many people fall into when creating 3rd party LabVIEW software outside of their working environment (using employers resource to create the code) and gives the employer very strong arguements to claim the code as theirs.

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NI's licensing allows you to install LV on a home comp...

I did read the license agreement recently (how bizarre is that?) and I believe the text surrounding the home install has language that the home install is for work associated with the owner of the license only. The intent would be that any work done with the license is for the owner of the license.

There is a student license that is quite affordable (starting to look into this as I'm taking a class). It has a watermark on all VIs, however may be a solution to having a 'free and clear' license at home.

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Depends on where you live but I don't think a company has the ability to claim ownership of work you do on you own time and on your own pc.

Having read through the link Shaun provided I can see I'm wrong. Fortunately, I live in a state that doesn't allow those kinds of employment agreements.

...I believe the text surrounding the home install has language that the home install is for work associated with the owner of the license only. The intent would be that any work done with the license is for the owner of the license.

There's a post in the DIY Labview group that quotes the EULA and pretty much sums up my view on the matter. The relevant part is:

the use of the SOFTWARE on such home computer is limited to work performed in the scope of such person′s employment with you

I don't think it necessarily means any work done with the license is for the owner of the license. If I'm working through training material or practicing for a certification exam, none of the code I'm producing is "for" the license owner but it is with the scope of my employment. I don't think NI's intent is to prevent people from doing those kinds of exercises at home. I suspect it is more to prevent an employee from using a home license to do for-profit work outside of the scope of his employment. (i.e. If I want to sell the stuff I produce at home I have to buy another license.)

Edited by Daklu

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There is a student license that is quite affordable (starting to look into this as I'm taking a class). It has a watermark on all VIs, however may be a solution to having a 'free and clear' license at home.

Arduino+LabVIEW Bundle at Sparkfun.com mentioned in the Idea Exchange here. I just bought this for my son :D (we're going to have our own little middle-school version of Waterloo Labs).

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All the NI licenses allow installation on a home computer. This is the "trap" that many people fall into when creating 3rd party LabVIEW software outside of their working environment (using employers resource to create the code) and gives the employer very strong arguements to claim the code as theirs.

Yeah, I've wondered how the "employer's resource" clause combined with Labview's licensing terms would play out in court over an open source claim. If the company had to purchase an extra license for me to use at home, then yeah, it makes sense to me. But the company purchases the license to use at work, and NI's eula says, "by the way, you can use it at home too." Does the company own the license? Absolutely. Is a home license necessarily an "employer resource?" I'm not so sure... (Though I expect a court would rule against me.)

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If you're just looking to "scratch your creative itch" for personal learning or recreational programming, I would recommend getting into the LabVIEW Beta program. Benefits:

  1. They offer no cost licenses that last essentially year round (the license lasts longer than the Beta period) (the only real cost is confidentiality - you can't distribute Beta source code)
  2. You get to use the coolest new features of LabVIEW
  3. You get to help out the quality of LabVIEW by generating bug reports
  4. You get an opportunity to influence LabVIEW features in development
  5. and best of all, you get access to the Beta Forum, which is about the highest concentration of in-depth LabVIEW knowledge you can find. There are constantly R&D members patrolling and participating there - it's outrageously resourceful (it's almost as good as LAVA :yes: )

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Yeah, I've wondered how the "employer's resource" clause combined with Labview's licensing terms would play out in court over an open source claim. If the company had to purchase an extra license for me to use at home, then yeah, it makes sense to me. But the company purchases the license to use at work, and NI's eula says, "by the way, you can use it at home too." Does the company own the license? Absolutely. Is a home license necessarily an "employer resource?" I'm not so sure... (Though I expect a court would rule against me.)

Well. "the company purchases the license to use at work" isn't really what they do. They buy a license to enable them to produce product. Where its produced is irrelevent. I suppose an analogy (albeit a poor one perhaps) would be you don't need a different insurance policy to drive a company car out of work hours.

However the arguement would be along the lines of "if they (the company) hadn't bought the software/license. Could you have legally produced the code?" The answer is only a difinitive "yes" if you have a license in your name, that you have bought. Otherwise you have used a company resource as they have the payment receipts, license and inventory ledger stating that they have it, You, on the other hand, merely have access to it whilst you are in their employ - under their license). Combine that with the work for hire clauses and you really don't have a leg to stand on.

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They buy a license to enable them to produce product.

The company's goal of purchasing a license is so employees can create a product. Whether or not employees ever use the software is irrelevant as far the license is concerned. The license itself gives the company permission to *use* the software. (Sometimes licenses give permission to *install* the software.)

Is "permission" a company-owned resource? Resources are generally limited in some way. Using a resource consumes it. A company owned automobile is clearly a resource--using it consumes its useful life. Furthermore, taking the company car home prevents somebody else from using it. Neither of these conditions apply when someone uses a LV home license on their personal equipment. The license doesn't wear out. The company can't reassign the license to a different employee during the night while you sleep. (Home licenses are only valid for named-user VLM or single seat licenses.) Using it at home or not using it at home has no impact on the company whatsoever, so I don't see the justification for calling it a "resource."

However the arguement would be along the lines of "if they (the company) hadn't bought the software/license. Could you have legally produced the code?"

I understand that argument, and if that's the defining question then yes, it does appear to be pretty airtight. To my not-a-laywer way of thinking, that's not the question at all. My counterargument would be, "show me the marginal costs associated with the resources I consumed by using the license at home." It doesn't even have to be dollars and cents costs, just costs in general.

Like I said, I suspect my argument would be rejected, but it would be interesting to see in play out in court. (Or at least have a lawyer chime in on the legal definition of "company resource.")

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[...] Using a resource consumes it. [...]

This is parallel to my favorite argument against "Intellectual Property".

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This is parallel to my favorite argument against "Intellectual Property".

All IP or just software IP? (I'm generally in favor of IP laws, though I do think software patents have gotten out of control.)

Like I said, I suspect my argument would be rejected...

Of course, changing the clause to "employer property" renders my argument moot...

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All IP or just software IP? (I'm generally in favor of IP laws, though I do think software patents have gotten out of control.)

All IP.

If you have an apple and I have an apple and we exchange apples then you and I will still each have one apple. But if you have an idea and I have an idea and we exchange these ideas, then each of us will have two ideas.

If I own a piece of metal and cut it into a shape that [you believe] 'belongs' to you, I've legally 'stolen' something from you. I think this is absurd.

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Well, I found a good solution to this issue. I recently changed jobs and now I'm working with an Alliance Partner. They have given me permission to use my own code for my own purposes. Anything I do for customers is off limits, but I expected that.

Jonathan, how we get me signed up to the OpenG team?

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