Company Time: Who owns your content?

November 13, 2009

Posted in Web Industry.

In pushing social media on campus (including an institutional blogging platform to hold personal/professional blogs), the question arises: Who owns this content?

I want to explore a few scenarios. Please post to the comments and share your own opinions on these.

1. You post to your personal blog on company time, using a company computer.

On one hand, it’s your personal blog – so it’s unlikely to be an issue because your employer probably doesn’t care about it. But if it’s related to your work and may provide value, the company might care. And the “during company time on company equipment” thing seems to lean toward your employer.

2. You tweet during work hours.

Who doesn’t do this? Do your personal tweets become the company’s property? Again, kind of a moot point given that the employer likely doesn’t care.

3. You post to a personal blog on an institutional platform, regardless of time or equipment.

This depends on the policies of the institution. Institutional blogs are likely to be the company’s property, but personal blogs using the employer’s systems seem like a grey area.

During Work Hours

This is the part that really bothers me. Every night, I do work for my employer. My work hours don’t stop at 5pm simply because the banks close – I’m on email, IM, and often do work because it needs to be done. How do you define “work hours?” What about those increasingly rare days when I work from home?

My perspective (which likely conflicts with that of my employer) is that my job isn’t defined by work hours. It’s defined by meeting the requirements of the position – with a somewhat elastic goal of 40 hours. Realistically, I spend far more than that to get the job done. My presence in the office from 8-5 doesn’t mean the job’s getting done, and my absence doesn’t mean that it’s not.

As a result, it is common for those of us in this situation to take a long lunch, exercise, or leave early. In exchange for pushing our “work hours” outside of 8-5, we expect flexibility during the 8-5 workday. So how does this affect our participation in social media? If I spend 30 minutes blogging during the day, but 30 minutes working at night – is this an even trade?

I’m curious to hear what you think. Have you ever had a “that’s our property” issue with your employer?

Note: This is hypothetical and theoretical. I don’t have any specific issue I’m dealing with at this time. Oh yeah, this post was written during work hours. * gasp *


  1. chas — November 13, 2009

    It sounds like you have an agreement with your employer. Glad to hear it’s working out.

  2. Robin2go — November 13, 2009

    Interesting. For me, it was a question of my employers. My last employer (here at my major educational institution) was not at all happy for me to be blogging. Or tweeting. Or really, doing anything in the social media environment. So all of my blogging was after 6pm and before 9pm. The tweeting would get a reprimand, we’d both back off, then I’d start in again, we’d ramp up, aaaaaaaaand full circle. New job, different division, same overall employer, but my job is to be exploring emerging technologies, using them, teaching others, and did I mention using them? We are basically in agreement: personal blog on personal server, personal views. Personal blog on university server, personal views that are SFW (can be done on the job). University entity, university server, university content. It’s all good. Grey, but good. :)