07 January 2009

Free As In Freedom

I never used to have strong opinions about open source development. Then I got sued.

I started working as an independent consultant in late 2001. One reason I "went indy" was that I refused to ever again sign a standard engineering employment agreement that would give my someone else ownership of everything I do or think.  I would never again submit to servitude.

In my consulting work, I was careful to read NDAs. I knew not to sign "derivative works" agreements. I knew that most non-compete agreements were illegal in California. I was clear with my clients: "Your project is not the only thing I'm working on and you don't own those other things." I thought I was savvy enough to protect my intellectual freedom. I was wrong.


To avoid this situation in the future, Harvind and I now insist that any software work based on a publicly available specification be delivered under an open source license. And if a potential client refuses to do business that way?  We walk away because those people are not worth the trouble they will cause down the road.

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