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SubjectContributing to the kernel while being employed

Slightly off-topic, but not completely ...

(And this has got nothing to do with SCO issue. I don't like to waste
time on nonexistent issues. ;-))

Shorter version: If I work for a commercial organization, how can I
write a kernel module copyrighted and GPLed by myself?

Now the longer version ...

Before working for a commercial organization, one usually has to sign a
contract which makes all the work done during the period of employment
(including innovations, "hobby" coding done during "after hours")
copyrighted by the employer. This introduces various problems when one
wishes to do open source development, especially as a hobby.

I am not talking about companies that do open source contributions as
institutions (e.g., JFS, XFS, and numerous device drivers). But if one
wants to do something as a hobby and host it somewhere (say
sourceforge), or if one wants to send a substantial patch, then it is a
different story.

For example, if I do some changes and send a patch, and hopefully if it
is accepted into the kernel, that code becomes GPL. But this doesn't
prevent the employer from later questioning my right to do so, because
the patch was never under my copyright according to the contract, and my
applying of GPL (or whatever the lisence I used) is void.

Obviously, there are many folks who work for commercial organizations,
but still actively get involved in the kernel development. I am keen to
know how they get around with copyright issues and contracts.

Please don't use Linus as an example. ;-)


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