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215

I am not a lawyer. This is not legal advice. That said, taking every goddamn line of an application and changing it slightly for the sole purpose of circumventing copyright law is blatantly, obviously, creating a derived work with no plausible defense whatsoever. Even the boughtest judge and jury will definitely find against you if you ever get dragged into ...


89

I probably would not, because 1) I assume it is not your job to manage people (since you refer to your boss), 2) this is one of the best ways to undermine the trust between yourself and your other colleagues. If you're concerned about the company, go to your colleague, express your concerns (DO NOT try to talk him out of quitting -- it is his life), and ...


87

IANAL. Contract does matter here. That's all I can say on that and I won't repeat the advice everyone else has given. The company may already own it and you have no say in the matter. Even a lawyer would tell you to hire a lawyer if you decide to simply say "No". So if that's your choice, hire a lawyer. I read and re-read this question until I figured ...


71

Here's what you do: Let them know that the candidates they are sending you are all unqualified Give them your minimum qualifications Reject anyone who does not meet those qualifications. If they refuse to give you resumes of anyone who meets your qualifications, then you have done your part. Regarding ethics, you don't have a responsibility to replace ...


67

Make sure that you're not overreacting. You are fresh, probably haven't worked a lot of (any?) other places, and so aren't prepared for the world of "real life code." Real life code is a horrible thing. It's like your nice school code and your obsessively tweaked personal project code had sex in the basement of a nuclear reactor and the baby grew up in a ...


65

According to Betsy Rosenblatt of Harvard Law School's Copyright Basics: What constitutes copyright infringement? Subject to certain defenses, it is copyright infringement for someone other than the author to do the following without the author's permission: copy or reproduce the work create a new work derived from the original work (for ...


58

You need to find another job. If this company finds it this easy to compromise ethical principles so blatantly when it comes to software, how can you trust them to do the right thing under any circumstances? What is going to happen when you are in a situation where you require honesty from them, or the capacity to follow ethical principles of any kind in ...


58

Though I'd love to live in a world where it would be perfectly safe to just drop them a note to let them know, I'd suggest involving your legal department first. Realistically, it's entirely possible that however well intentioned your bug report is, someone in the competitor's organization will interpret it as "our competitor just paid one of their ...


58

Read Joel On Software - things you should never do. Understand his reasoning, then read a few other article on bad software and how to fix it, written by managers, not programmers. Armed with this information you will be able to present a case for fixing it, in terms that managers understand and care about. Hint: Good managers don't spend time and money ...


54

I think you are being paranoid. If they are interviewing phone screening 10 people, that's roughly 10 man-hours they are spending in on this phase of the interviewing. Plus the cost of advertizing the job, reading a bunch of resumes, etc. And they are getting random ideas from 10 developers, many of whom are probably "also rans" in the employment race. ...


52

Let me throw out a few points in favor of CSV: CSV is simple(r than any alternative suggested in OP) to implement and parse CSV is understood by almost every piece of software on the planet (past and present) CSV forces a fairly flat, simple schema (there is a single flat list of fields) CSV is more human-readable than XML, JSON, or (UGH!) HL7 (V2.x, ...


51

Yes it is a bad idea. If you attract somebody who is strong in that skill set, presumably they have other options, they will more than likely leave. If you attract somebody who is not strong, presumably they don't have other options and misled you as well, they will stay but not be the candidate you were hoping for. Either way you are worse off than you ...


49

I'm not a lawyer, this is not legal advice, and if you rely on what I say in any sort of dubious undertaking (1) you're an idiot, and (2) I disclaim all responsibility. This is what I've heard and read over the years from people who seem to know. Judges don't play "in theory" games. They don't like people who make up ways to twist the law that are perhaps ...


47

It depends on the your contract with Company A. Do they have any clauses in the contract regarding the works you write outside of work? Some do. If that's the case, I'm not sure what you can do. If not, you are still the owner of the code and you aren't obligated to give it up. You could try to sell them the application source code. I agree that you ...


45

I have to disagree with the ROT-13 solution. Obfuscating your banned words simply because the sight of them might offend someone is a waste of time. Your dictionary of bad words/bad-word-rules should come from a separate file anyways (which could be loaded at runtime, or embedded as a resource). Obfuscating this file simply makes it more difficult for ...


42

I wonder whether I actually have an ethical duty to make room for more talented people and find myself another kind of job No, you don't. If anything, you have an ethical duty to take care of yourself and your dependents. There's no shortage of jobs for talented developers, and there's no reason that you should put the interests of people that you ...


40

I think you've done your part by pointing out the problem and suggesting an alternative. If they insist that you do things that expose them to a certain level of risk, you should make sure you have a paper trail (and back-ups of it) showing that they explicitly requested this, knowing the risks involved. If you're really concerned, you could tell them that ...


38

Is it okay to use this code at work, thus saving me (and the company) time? Yes, it's ethical. In the case you describe that you own the code, so you can freely give it to your company. They hired you to write code so they trust your code. If so, can I port any bug fixes and enhancements back to my personal library? Your contract probably forbids ...


36

I'm not a lawyer. It sounds like you already have one for the purposes of suing your client; while you have him or her on retainer I would recommend getting their advice on this. There are some other questions on this site that deal with "kill switches" and other ways to disable software for which the developer has not received compensation. It is usually ...


35

I'd just answer it without much hesitation or screwing around. Knowing the answer to a question isn't something evil, it means you've encountered it before and know how to solve it. Fix it, move on to the next.


35

Most companies do what is good for the company, not what is good to the employee. My experience shows that loyalty is trumped by many factors - politics, money and simple uncaring management being some of them. I have seen companies shed good people without a second thought. In regards to money - loyal people are at a disadvantage, as they are normally ...


34

No, for at least three separate reasons. First, in the U.S., software is a literary work, and is thus fully protected under copyright law. It makes no more sense to additionally protect software ideas (as opposed to expression), then it would to patent a clever plot concept. Second, all software is equivalent to lambda calculus, and abstract ideas are not ...


32

Been there, done that I went through almost the exact same situation: I was hired as a non-programmer by a company with 50 or so employees, saw a need, and over the course of several years, taught myself programming and built a fairly sophisticated intranet system for them. When I got ready to leave, I wanted to help with the transition, for three reasons: ...


31

If you ask me, new customers are a lot easier to acquire than your reputation and your conscience.


29

I agree with the answer by Robert Harvey. Search for another job. Not because you don't trust them. But for another obvious reason. One day they will be caught using pirated software for thousands of dollars. And they will be forced, by a judge, to pay those thousands of dollars. A case like this may force this company to liquidation, if they don't have ...


29

User Story 1: Lie to 5 existing users Since we have only 5 users, we have decided to lie to them and tell them there are 500 users. Do you really think that these 5 users won't find it strange for a website to be dead even though it claims to have 500 users? User Story 2: Remind 5 existing users of how inactive the site is Let our existing users know ...


29

Actual legality will depend upon jurisdiction. Consult an attorney for a definite answer. A contractor is entitled to payment for agreed-upon work that was performed. Assuming your friend has met the terms of his contract for the localization enhancement, he is entitled to payment for that and the client is not allowed to withhold payment because of an ...


28

Point him at this page: http://www.federalreserve.gov/datadownload/help/default.htm#youShouldKnow And the Automated Systems section which says it's fine. "The "Direct download for automated systems" link on the page is the URL that can be used by computer programs to retrieve the contents of the data package without actually using a browsing window. It ...



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