My GitHub and npm accounts are full of interesting personal open source projects. Recently there has been some news about the ownership of NginX. It also is a open source project, that started as a private side project.
Some so far, it has only been once, that I was able to publish some code, that I made at work, as open source. It is the TGestureRecognizer, that I got developed at mola sync. Many of my projects could directly benefit my company, previous and current. But non of the modules I published, was an integral part of a product I developed for my employer.
This was absolutely the same for the development of NginX. Rambler is a search engine provider. They do not provide web hosting services. and as such, they have never been interested for its business to develop a great new web server for its clients. Igor Sysoev had their for no choice, but develop the software outside of his work hours, investing personal time and energy.
In my opinion it is a very bad step of the Rambler company. What is it really they are able to clam? They can not clam all the contributions from all the open source developers improving the server software. I wonder if they will be able to claim a lost business, they never had interest to enter in the first place. Out of personal interest, I will keep an eye on the process.
What a signal does the actions of the Rambler search engine is going to have on its own employees? what will they think? will they speak up and protest for their former colleague? Who developed a great software they probably use today on their own work? What a sign is that for the employees of that company who also have some side projects, that the company don’t want to fund. Will they have to fear that Rambler is going to suit them as well, once they leave the company?
What about people at other companies? Is the Law protecting me, for investing personal time and energy for providing awesome software modules to the public? are there steps and actions I have to take to protect myself?
For sure, I always made a clear separation. I never develop the open source modules at work time, even dough it is scratching under my nails to just write the few lines it would take. Second, I always code open source on my own hardware. Is that enough or does that do anything at all, I don’t know. As at least the idea got inspired from work and would never happened without the company.
One thing is for sure, once I hear such a story from my company, attaching me or any other college for bringing forward an idea that the company don’t wanted to support, I would have to leave. Good that it is a core value of my current employer, to increase trust in society.
specially as my company know what I am doing, and it is no secret. as I have read it about Igor Sysoev, who developed the software without his employer knowing.