Can Employer Usurp Copyright On GPL-Derived Work?
An anonymous reader writes “I am a recent graduate, and I’ve been working on my own on a project that uses GPL-licensed libraries. Later a university department hired me, on a part-time basis, to develop this project into a solution that they needed. The project’s size increased over time and soliciting help from the open source community seemed like the obvious thing to do. However, when I suggested this, my boss was not interested, and it was made clear to me that the department’s position was that copyright of the whole thing belonged to them. Indeed, by default work created for an employer belongs to the employer, so I may have gotten myself in the same trap discussed here years ago. Even though I want to release my code to the public I don’t know whether I have the legal right to do so. I did start the project on my own. And, since no written or verbal agreement was ever made to transfer copyright over to my employer, I question whether they can claim that they now own the extended version of the project. Also, the whole project relies on GPL libraries, and without those libraries it would be useless. Can they still claim copyright and prevent me from publishing the source code even though it is derived from GPL software?” Some early commenters on the submission pointed out that it matters whether the libraries were licensed under the LGPL vs. the GPL.