I started a new job and signed a copyright agreement. Basically it says "we own everything you make", and then (the last paragraph says) except a few conditions. The part I'm concerned about is

... is not otherwise related to my job responsibilities.

Does that mean if I develop something that could be useful for work (e.g. dotfiles, vm config, note-taking processes), that they own it? Even if I don't develop it for work, or even use it at work? It seems very open ended. How enforceable is this thing?

  • Is the result specific to copyright, or does it apply to all intellectual property? Ideas are not protected by copyright, only final expressions of ideas. – ohwilleke Sep 21 '17 at 4:08
  • Under US laws, even without the signed document, works of original authorship that you create as part of your job responsibilities are "works made for hire" and the legal owner of the copyright is your employer. Logically, they would not have had you sign such a thing unless it purports to give them more than what they already have, since it might not even qualify as a binding contract. – Upnorth Sep 21 '17 at 6:02
  • When a contract simply says what one know from contract-external law, it does not invalidate a contract to state the obvious. Logically, even if they only intended to restate work-for-hire law, they can and should explicitly do so, so as to not annoy employees. – user6726 Oct 23 '17 at 23:38

It’s not uncommon for employers to have an employment agreement with a provision that requires that anything you create while your employee is their property. Many of them are enforceable if well written. I really would highly recommend you speak to a qualified attorney so they can review it and explain you exactly what you're committing to before signing.

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