No, not quite yet. (Previous mention. APBNews.com is the crime site that burned through its cash and declared bankruptcy, inducing Chicken Little responses that content is dead.) A memo to former employees is now circulating on the samizdat wires. (Hey, brainiac MBAs with the people skills of a prison guard: while you may be storing your minions’ E-mail for possible legal action, your employees are storing yours to embarrass you later.) The memo reminds journos tossed overboard that files and stories in progress at the time of APB’s dissolution are the property of APB. Fine. They are.
The memo also claims story ideas as APB property. Talk about thoughtcrime! Now your employer owns your neuronal connections rather than the product of the body that gives voice to them. APB nabobs seem unclear on the concept that ideas cannot be copyrighted, only expressions of ideas; a thought has no legal protection as a corporate asset. You may own the work your employees churn out while on the clock, but that’s it.
This, in fact, is the most damning indictment of APBNews yet to emerge. Its management structure, or mismanagement structure, is bad enough. Its rapacious profligacy in setting millions of dollars alight foes nought but heap dirt on its own grave. But APB shows its true colours, acting like a corporate publishing monolith in attempting to extract every conceivable right from its creators – even the right to freedom of conscience – for the el-cheapo fee of an annual salary. Journalists have fought this expropriation of their intellectual property for years, and will continue to win in the courts; the law is on their side.
When it comes to owning employee thoughts, who or what is on APB’s side?
Posted on 2000-07-26