News is a better fit over at the orange site. When this is all settled, if there is a good writeup and analysis of the case and how we as developers can protect our side projects better, then that might be a good submission.
On Thursday, December 12, Russian law enforcement raided the Moscow office of the IT company “Nginx,” which owns the eponymous web-server used by almost 500 million websites around the world. According to several reports, Nginx co-founders Igor Sysoev and Maxim Konovalov spent several hours in police interrogation. The search is part of a criminal case based on charges by a company tied to the Russian billionaire and Rambler Group co-owner Alexander Mamut, whose businesses believe they own the rights to the Nginx web-server because Sysoev started developing the code while working for Rambler in 2004. Meduza’s correspondent Maria Kolomychenko looks at how Sysoev and his partners spent 15 years creating the world’s most popular web-server before selling it to an American firm for $670 million, and how Rambler decided, half a year later, that it owns the technology.
On HN, chupasaurus wrote:
“The commentary of Igor Ashmanov, who was CEO of Rambler when they hired Sysoev, on the document in tweet:
Sysoev was developing in his work time, in the office, with company’s equipment. (quote from the order: edit)
Bullshit. There isn’t anything on that in our laws. You have to very accurately prove that there was an assignment on that. “In his work time” or “with company’s equipment” - doesn’t work. Everything’s allowed - and IP is within authors.
Besides, when I hired Sysoev - it was in 2000 - we have talk specifically that he had his pet project and he’d have the right to work on it. It was called “mod_accel” or something, he renamed it in 2001-2002.
I can make a statement about that in court, if needed. And my partner in my companies, Dmitriy Pashko, then-CTO of Rambler, could, I think.
He had worked as a system administrator. Software development wasn’t in his responsibilities at all.
I think, Rambler cannot provide any paper, more so an assignment, on development of a web server.
I asked our advocate, …, to look what’s going on. The lawyers of Runa Capital (edit: early investors of Nginx Inc.) already work in the case, so probably our help wouldn’t be necessary.
I think, skunks would fail.”
I think it’s neat Russia has laws that give employees more protection on their I.P.. Then again, there’s a well-connected, rich person and company involved here that might make them meaningless. I don’t know how that plays out in practice over there.
An interesting angle to this is that if the claims prove right, Nginx was never distributed legally. But how would users be informed of that, and at what point would you have to stop using it? (Assuming the owners refused to grant the same license.) Is there some precedent for such a delayed ownership change for some “intellectual property”?
That’s a good question. Is there any kind of prior case law pertaining to that? Sort of like if Oracle wins their Java lawsuit against Google, how can users/companies/developers handle that they are now using software that was never legal to sell in the first place? Does it get grandfathered in, or does licensing start at some point?