After five years of grind, I am relocating from my current sprawling corporate behemoth to a smaller, slightly less sprawling corporate behemoth.
There are many aspects of this long-in-coming transition that I am satisfied. For today, we will discuss why I am glad that I will have a chance to roll over my “Exhibit A” in the “We Own Your Brain Document”.
Perhaps you are familiar with this document; it is the one that says flatly that anything that you think or do during the term of your employment at the company belongs to them. I’ve always chafed at this notion. If I go home, and paint a purty picture (say), does that picture belong to The Man, simply because I could have been working during the hours of 9pm to midnight? Does the fact that I draw a salary from these people to think mean that I can no longer think my own thoughts? I’m skeptical about this.
Those of you who have signed one of these may be familiar with this “Exhibit A” that I mentioned. This is the page where you get to make a list of what is affectionately referred to as “Prior Inventions”. The last three times I signed a We Own Your Brain, I left my Exhibit A completely empty.
That will not be the case this time. For, you see, over my tenure at this company, I have discovered that I very much enjoy the process of creation. In particular, I enjoy creating little interactive game things that I can show to my friends and family.
See, but the way I see it, those little creations of mine shouldn’t belong to the company. They should belong to me. They have nothing to do with my work, even though creating them often involves a similar skill set to what I do professionally.
Now, from their perspective, I get it. Say, for example, one of your workers invents Nylon. Well, you’d want to own that, wouldn’t you. (True story, by the way. I think the guy got a $100,000 one-time bonus for the invention.)
But with creative endeavors, it gets murky. I mean, let’s say I maintain a web comic, and I work for an entertainment company. Now that web comic becomes popular. Does the company have any right to claim ownership to that work? Even if I began working on it while under their employ? I’m dubious on that.
Thankfully, civilized society sort of agrees with me. The evidence for this is the “Exhibit A”, a blank page that is put on the back of every We Own Your Brain document, a page which, this time, I intend to fill with as complete a list as I can muster of all of my creations, past, present, and future.
Power to the people! Or something.