EA (And Other Studios) Apparently Have Policies That Require Developers To Gather Permission Before Producing Any Creative Works Outside Of Work

Hobbes

Incident Manager
Verified
Oct 27, 2017
4,723
United States
This just came across my feed, found it odd and interesting. The policy (most likely written in the employment contract) says you have to ask for permission before producing any creative works outside of the studio because, if I'm reading this right, they might OWN those works created outside of your 8 hours. That's fucking nuts.



 

Soap

Member
Oct 27, 2017
2,657
This is common practise in a lot of industries, from pharmaceuticals to tech.
 

Lant_War

Banned
Jul 14, 2018
12,226
I wonder, what would happen if they just released it under an alias and didn't tell the company? Especially if the game became succesful
 
OP
OP
Hobbes

Hobbes

Incident Manager
Verified
Oct 27, 2017
4,723
United States
That’s incredibly standard in tech.
This is common practise in a lot of industries, from pharmaceuticals to tech.
Standard beyond tech, when I was at Nike this was in my contract as well.
They do this in the hair industry aswell.
Interesting. What is the reason behind such a policy? I've never come across this before.
 

DarkMagician

Member
Oct 25, 2017
943
This happens at Amazon, Google, Apple, Microsoft, Facebook as well.

They don’t want you to create work that they don’t own while you’re employed there where the work overlaps with a business they have, since you could use insider knowledge. Like at Google, you wouldn’t be able to make your own smart home devices without explicit permission since you can use internal business knowledge to become a competitor.
 

aeolist

Banned
Oct 27, 2017
4,191
also it speaks to how beaten down the modern worker is that the reaction here is "lol yeah that's every company nbd" rather than "this is utterly idiotic and oppressive and should be illegal everywhere"
 
Oct 29, 2017
4,048
I wonder, what would happen if they just released it under an alias and didn't tell the company? Especially if the game became succesful
That's precisely why this policy is in place. It's to stop indirect competition and use of trade secrets/knowledge outside of the realm of employment.

Non-compete clauses are super common in all industries. Though this case here seems particularily draconian; it's not surprising at all that they would require permission from their employer, who would need to ensure that they're not directly or indirectly competing with their employer.
 

Alienous

Member
Oct 25, 2017
6,357
How lenient are they with giving permission?

Because I can imagine it being a heads up so that there doesn't need to be a lengthy future dispute.
 

panecasio

Member
Oct 27, 2017
2,477
Toronto, ON
You can ask for exemptions. I work at a major international AAA studio and several of my coworkers work(ed) on their own things (released on steam and other platforms) and work knew about it, even encouraged it. It’s mainly when you develop a competing product when they will say no.

These types of agreements are standard. You should never, ever work on your own stuff during company time, on the premises, or using equipment or licenses the company paid for. Most of this is common sense. But if you’re working on your time at home, with your own HW+SW, it’s usually fine.
 

elenarie

Developer at DICE
Verified
Jun 10, 2018
3,250
Bait title. It just wrong. Not sure how much I can go into things, but things are very relaxed and it definitely is NOT all creative works.

It is not fucking nuts. And it has nothing to do with unions.

Is this the new weekend drama? :)
 

kortvarsel

Avenger
Dec 11, 2017
322
Is this something exclusive to the US, or does anyone have insight in how this is treated in the EU?
 

julian

Member
Oct 27, 2017
6,927
also it speaks to how beaten down the modern worker is that the reaction here is "lol yeah that's every company nbd" rather than "this is utterly idiotic and oppressive and should be illegal everywhere"
Nobody is saying it’s ok. But acting like this is some extreme unheard of policy should be corrected.
 

Justsomeguy

Member
Oct 27, 2017
711
UK
Interesting. What is the reason behind such a policy? I've never come across this before.
Your company invests a load in your training and development. If you use that training and development and inspiration you get through working on IP the company owns, they believe they should have a claim on it too.
 

Wulfram

Member
Mar 3, 2018
1,142
It seems like it depends on whether they're reasonable about granting that permission
 

Jarmel

The Jackrabbit Always Wins
Moderator
Oct 25, 2017
5,421
New York
That's not anything new. Other industries have similar policies such as in animation.
 
Oct 28, 2019
272
People are quick to jump on this being unethical (tweets). But if you work for a company making creative products, how would anyone know the difference from what you created on your own or was "inspired" from work. For example is someone worked on star wars at EA, it would be OK for them to write a "totally not star wars" science fiction story? Plus it doesn't say you can write something at home (how could they stop you) but you probably won't be able to sell it while you work for them.
 

jph139

Member
Oct 25, 2017
5,566
Massachusetts
I can get non-compete clauses in stuff if you're, say, developing a social media app for a company and want to release a social media app in your own time.

But if you're a programmer or software developer, and you're restricted from writing a novel or making an album as some of thost tweets imply, that's absolutely absurd.
 

Megasoum

Member
Oct 25, 2017
15,459
Wait... There's still people who don't know that?

This is one of the most basic thing in most creative industries, including the Video game one
 

tsampikos

The Fallen
Oct 27, 2017
2,559
Standard inhouse contract stuff. It's really fucked up sometimes. Let's say you do something outside of that that becomes a major success... they will try to claim you used company time and assets to create it and try to take ownership of it. Even if it isn't true that's the mentality behind it. They want to try to squeeze as much out of you as they can and they want to discourage you from making money elsewhere.

I had a company try to take ownership of unrelated design/ works that went well beyond the scope of the work I did for them in shady contract language that basically allowed them to take what they wanted and for weeks they would not budge on the language, trying to tell me it's normal (it's not) and that it protects my copyright (it doesn't), but nah... it's just a means to try to force you to focus your best efforts on them or to discourage you from working elsewhere.

Anyway even though I detest Jeremy Stieglitz (personal reasons tho you can look up completely separate articles on him) the story around Ark is very much a use case for something like this.


But yeah... non compete is a thing~
 
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criteriondog

Member
Oct 26, 2017
2,528
This is usually standard in tech and other industries. One of my previous jobs had a similar policy that wasn’t a gaming or game related company.
 

headspawn

Member
Oct 27, 2017
5,470
I heard about this before to a lesser extent, like if you're a programmer and release a game outside of work, the company can lay hands on it via their contractual agreement. I didn't know it extended to other fields and hobbies, that's fucking wild.
 
Oct 29, 2017
4,048
it makes for less happy and fulfilled employees and it should be illegal because anything i do on my own time is mine, fuck employers who think otherwise
I bet you wouldn't be saying that if you employed someone who just privately released a game that looked and played suspicious similarily to the one you were publishing...
 

Komo

Member
Jan 3, 2019
4,586
Interesting. What is the reason behind such a policy? I've never come across this before.
Do you remember John Carmack vs Zenimax over Oculus software?

That's basically what the reason behind the policy is. They'd want to be able to have a chance at what you're working at that and just to stop you if you're stealing shit or making programs with company code.
 

bishoptl

Remember
Member
Oct 26, 2017
501
Vancouver
This is standard policy. Activision has the same in place, at least when I worked there.

EA legal also will work w you to ensure that everything is kosher - they do NOT just swoop in and "take" your creative works outside of the company.

I've published a book and am producing a movie short. EA has been incredibly supportive of both and is not claiming either. Two of my colleagues have published children's books w the same support and hands-off treatment re: ownership.

There are things to get mad about in this industry. This isn't it.
 

spam musubi

Member
Oct 25, 2017
5,606
Like everyone said, it's pretty standard. The reason is mainly so that you don't build something based on internal company information to gain a competitive edge.

This shit is stupid. Games need a damn union already.
not as stupid as not reading the thread (regardless of what you think of the policy, it's not a games thing)
 
May 25, 2019
896
This has been around for decades. Wozniak had to show the Apple Computer prototype to HP as they had the right of first refusal
 

newmoneytrash

Member
Oct 25, 2017
6,301
Melbourne, Australia
also it speaks to how beaten down the modern worker is that the reaction here is "lol yeah that's every company nbd" rather than "this is utterly idiotic and oppressive and should be illegal everywhere"
i think it’s less that and more that we don’t need to crucify EA for a standard practice

if you want to complain about the practice in it’s entirety then fine, but we don’t need to beat up on EA for doing something that is fairly normal and routine