TechWhirl (TECHWR-L) is a resource for technical writing and technical communications professionals of all experience levels and in all industries to share their experiences and acquire information.
For two decades, technical communicators have turned to TechWhirl to ask and answer questions about the always-changing world of technical communications, such as tools, skills, career paths, methodologies, and emerging industries. The TechWhirl Archives and magazine, created for, by and about technical writers, offer a wealth of knowledge to everyone with an interest in any aspect of technical communications.
Subject:Re: Copyrights and legal agreements From:Eric Haddock <eric -at- ENGAGENET -dot- COM> Date:Mon, 16 Dec 1996 14:32:42 -0600
I've seen this concern before and here's what the result has
consistently been much less hostile and paranoid than people think. The
memo pretty much says it all--it's not the company's aim to go after
personal works. These kinds of agreements are common and when people first
see it in print, it can cause apprehension because the first thing people
fixate on is the "anything" word. Then they say things like "if I write
manuals for a company but then go home and write a poem--do I own the poem
or does the company? After all, the agreement did say _anything_ created by
It's legalese to cover the company just-in-case. I've never heard of a
company trying to declare a copyright infringement over something like
poetry or short stories--or even newsletters for the PTA or a local club or
whatnot. The geist of the company's concern is that employees work only on
their work--not write other things on company computers--and that they
don't write something that can benefit a competitor.
Even if you do write poetry, for example, at work, the company isn't
going to harass you over copyright issues because your company almost
certainly doesn't produce poetry. You wrote something in an industry where
your company doesn't compete and probably hasn't a concern in the world
over. Sure, you can publish poetry--become a world-famous poet for all they
care--because they have nothing to lose.
The company does have something to lose if you come up with a great
idea, leave the company, and take that idea to another company in the same
industry. _Then_ they'd have a concern and might actually go after you if
they knew you had this idea when you were working for them. In that case
the company would point to the "anything" word to get to your idea--even
though that idea may never have even been proposed by you while you were
working with the company.
The important thing to remember is the industry. If you do something on
your own time for a whole other industry--who cares? Use a company machine
for personal use? That _never_ happens! ;) If you do something that could
benefit a competitor--they care.
It's not a big deal really. Just be sure not to work on your great
American novel while the boss is around. Oh, and try not to use the
docutech system as a personal printing press. ;)