VentureBlog: Who Owns Scobleizer?
David Hornik asks the question of whether or not Microsoft got screwed when Scoble bailed for PodTech, taking with him their “intellectual property.” (and Scoble deftly tosses me under the bus by citing Hornik’s post in a post of his own titled “Who owns Churbuck’s blog?”)
Hornik cites one of those hysterical pieces of boiler plate that the attorneys sneak into the Human Resources Welcome Pack which essentially say “all your base belong to us” and anything you create, think of, ruminate over, or otherwise concoct during business hours is the property of the Man.
“Ever since Scoble left Microsoft, I’ve been thinking about the question of who owns Scobleizer. After all, didn’t Robert write Scobleizer during work hours, using Microsoft’s computers? In fact, wasn’t it Robert’s job at Microsoft to write Scobleizer? Didn’t Microsoft pay him thousands of dollars in salary, and thousands more in travel expenses, to represent Microsoft in the blogging world and to do so, at least in part, by writing Scobleizer?”
David raises a valid point. I am blogging on a piece of company property, (a nice one too, a sweet Lenovo x60s Thinkpad with EVDO wireless.(note the shameless advert)) Since I am presently 300 miles from the time card machine, (you know, the bird-punch model that Fred Flintstone used when he clocked it at the quarry) I guess I am blogging off the clock. Of course, one must understand I only work Monday through Friday from nine to five with a half-hour lunch break. I never work during non-work hours. I never check my email on weekends.
Sheesh, I don’t blog at work. I have too much other stuff to get done and blogging for the company is not on my list of to-dos. I will, from time to time, mention my employer’s name, but not a lot, because I have no interest in going down in history as the “guy at XYZ corp. who blogs about customer service.” I’d prefer to be known as the guy who wrote a great book about technology standards, or that guy on Cape Cod who blogs about clamming. But, dreams of literary immortality aside, I am resigned to be just a guy who blogs because he misses being a full-time writer. I suffer from the malady caoecethes scribendi and this is my cure.
I do have a reasonably healthy obsession with my professional life — it keeps the wolf from the door after all — and our professional lives are — at least on a time basis — the bulk of our lives. But assigning ownership of a blog to one’s employer on the basis that the employer’s brand enhances the brand of the blogging employee? Or that the blogger used precious CPU cycles on a company machine?
It was always 100 percent clear to me during Scoble’s Microsoft tenure that his gig was at Channel 9 videotaping geeks and that Scobleizer was his and his alone. He blogged about whatever the heck he felt like, and if that turned out to be Microsoft …. well, sure, he’ll go down as the Microsoft blogger.
Bloggers are bylines. Nothing more. Bylines move around. If my employer were to say, “please don’t blog about us” then I’d never blog about them. For now, Churbuck.com lives off of my employer’s servers, is managed by me, designed by me, the domain name is renewed and paid by me, and predates my relationship with my employer by about three years. So there.