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  • This company deserves a protest! I can see waiting until Ben finds another employer. But there needs to be some economic disincentive for folks doing this sort of thing. It's not quite as easy for people to wrap their heads around as ten years olds in sweat shops, but it still deserves a clear message being sent about what is unethical and unacceptable.

    Also, people need to be made aware of which companies are clueless enough to attempt to enforce these employment contract clauses so we can avoid them f

    • Protest what? What action would you have them take? They apparently said they won't take action against past work, and only prohibit future work. So it is entirely up to him. Of course, his personal circumstances may be such that the leaving the company may not be easy, but still, it is entirely up to him.

      The company should not feel obligated, morally or legally or otherwise, to allow him to continue to do open source work while in their employ. They might have very good reasons for it; since you don't know the company, you obviously don't know if this is the case. Even if they don't have good reasons, this is a free market, and the company should be allowed to be stupid if they want to, as long as they don't lie or otherwise break the law. The answer is not to strongarm companies to allow employees to act in a way you think they should, but to educate potential employees -- as you noted -- and possibly through that force the companies to change their policies in order to attract good candidates.

      He is the one responsible here -- not that I am attacking him, because it is an honest mistake, one many people make every day -- to know what is in his contract, only sign a contract he is comfortable with and understands, abide by his contract, and change jobs if necessary. I find it hard to blame the employer for enforcing something he agreed to.
      • Uhm, why should a company feel that they have any right at all to tell an employee what he can and cannot do in his spare time? This example of "professional employee" goes way too far! It's not like we're still living in the Middle Age!
        • Why should anyone have any right to tell an employer it doesn't have that right? You don't have to sign the contract.
          • Why should anyone have a right to tell a company it can't have people sign a contract agreeing to work for 5 cents an hour? Or agreeing not to complain about being exposed to poison gas? Or promising the company their first-born child?

            Can we really rely on market forces to do everything? Besides, protests and complaints against corporate practices are part of the market environment, too.
            • If your examples had the least bit of relationship with the point at hand, I might feel compelled to respond.
              • I'm sorry, I guess that was overly rude. Still, I can't see a comparison to exploiting people for extremely low pay and putting limits on what you, as a knowledge worker, do with your knowledge. You can go elsewhere. You can not sign the contract. If you are "exploited" it is because you specifically chose to be. These are not comparable situations.
                • Perhaps my examples were a bit over the top. I was reacting to your seeming outrage over the idea that someone would criticize a company for the behavior in question. I wouldn't find it outrageous even if someone suggested making the behavior illegal, but what you seemed to be reacting to was someone simply suggesting that it was immoral.

                  I agree that the examples I gave are much more extreme situations, but the difference seems to me to be more quantitative than qualitative. Demanding the rights to all
                  • I am reacting to the idea that competent adults are expected to be protected from themselves. I cannot see how it can possibly be immoral for me to sign a contract that says anything I produce in relation to computers, while employed, belongs to my company. I cannot see how that is anything remotely abusive or immoral.

                    As to what set you off, I was using the same language as the poster *I* was replying to. "Why should any company feel they have a right to tell an employee" begat "why should anyone feel t