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Employment Contracts and the GPL


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Bringing just a minor point over from this thread...

QUOTE(crelf @ Jun 18 2007, 09:38 AM)

QUOTE(Justin Goeres @ Jun 18 2007, 09:18 AM)

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Unless you have an employment contract that prohibits you even seeing GPL code; I've heard rumors of some people in that situation.

Really? I wonder why...

I can tell you that I was told that a few years ago by one of the developers of MAME. At the time, MAME was considering (actually, in the process of) moving to the GPL. But then this dev took a job with Microsoft (they bought his employer) and the license change got killed because his new employment contract specifically forbade him from having any contact with GPL software in source code form. He also said he was not the only person inside Microsoft subject to those restrictions. Whether or not that sort of thing was practically enforceable was up for debate, but he certainly wouldnt've been able to contribute to MAME anymore, which would've been a disaster.

Basically, what it amounted to (he surmised) was that Microsoft was paranoid about being accused of misappropriating GPL software into their products. Sort of the "1% Doctrine" of software licensing :wacko: . This was about 4 or 5 years ago now. I don't know whether it's still true.

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QUOTE(Justin Goeres @ Jun 18 2007, 01:33 PM)

Basically, what it amounted to (he surmised) was that Microsoft was paranoid about being accused of misappropriating GPL software into their products. Sort of the "1% Doctrine" of software licensing :wacko: . This was about 4 or 5 years ago now. I don't know whether it's still true.

Well it might have had to do with the fact that they misappropriated the BSD socket implementation when they wrote the TCP/IP socket library for Windows NT. As silly as it sounds considering that socket library was under the BSD license, they simply "forgot" to follow just about the only requirement that the BSD license asks for, namely to mention in the docs about the software origins.

That they might be a bit paranoid about GPL I could understand. After all I'm sure the FSF wouldn't stay silent when they had reasonable suspicion that MS violated their license. But the whole idea about being contaminated just by having seen code under a certain license is rather something that MS promoted themself indirectly in the first place through thier shared source license.

Rolf Kalbermatter

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