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Does your company pay you to write open source code?

I'm a computer industry journalist who just started in a new position; I'm senior online editor cio.com and csoonline.com. The first article that I decided to tackle is about open source development in the enterprise, and I hope you can help me.

In essence: if you write open source software as part of your salaried job, I want to ask a few questions about how you've worked out the logistics or legal details with your management. (And I'd be *really* happy if I can quote open source women! Yay for visibility!)

I know, from Evans Data research, that a rather high percentage of software developers write open source code, whether on their own time or the company's clock; some meaningful percentage of those developers also contribute the changes back to the open source community. And one of the factoids mentioned in passing at the Gartner Open Source summit in September was that a growing percentage of corporations are paying their own developers to work on open source projects, some of whom do so full time. IBM is probably the easiest example, with several people on the Eclipse project employed by IBM.

I'm looking for salaried open source developers, those developers' management, or those who can speak personally to the issue -- so I can write an article to provide guidance to IT Managers who are contemplating such options.

I hope to create management guidelines for companies who want to take advantage of open source code, by adding the features they need to the existing code base, then contributing the enhancements back to the development community. But doing so can raise intellectual property questions (such as "what does it mean for 'work for hire'?")... and perhaps several other issues that make lawyers and CEOs uncomfortable. I'd like to get your input on the issues the open source developer and her manager need to deal with.

If you're willing to chat with me (ideally in e-mail), drop me a line at eschindler@cxo.com and I'll inundate you with questions. If not... I apologize for interrupting your day. <smile>

Esther Schindler
senior online editor, cio.com

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