Talk:Non-disclosure agreements

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WMF LCA comment[edit]

We haven't in the past encouraged employees or past volunteers to share their confidentiality agreements, or shared them ourselves, for a few reasons:

  1. Our current documents are solid, but we have plans to revamp them. We'll do that after reviewing their use and how they interact with the privacy policy. That will take time to gather, but having that knowledge will help us write documents more tailored to specific needs.
  2. Once we share legal documents people naturally tend to reuse them without consulting with legal, and this leads to problems. (Past attempts at this appear to have directly contributed to #3 and #4 below.) The documents I've just uploaded are marked to make clear that people should talk to us before using them. But the fewer older documents floating around, the better for everyone.
  3. Our older agreements occasionally contain clauses that are legally valid and binding, but that we probably won't use in the future because they are inconsistent with our values and strategy. This sort of thing is common in growing organizations, and we've taken steps to prevent this in the future.
  4. Our older agreements can be inconsistent. For example, in 2011, we drafted a confidentiality agreement tailored for access to secure, trusted systems. Unfortunately, we recently discovered that in 2012, when a volunteer was given an NDA for the same sort of system, they were accidentally given a much older one. Again, this sort of inconsistency is common in growing organizations, and we've now taken steps to prevent this in the future.

With that as background, we've uploaded two documents that are representative of the kinds of confidentiality agreements we're drafting right now: the confidentiality language from our current employment agreement, and the NDA used for Wikimania 2013 scholarship committee. Both of these are solid examples of the kinds of confidentiality agreements we'd like to be writing in the future. --LVilla (WMF) (talk) 21:53, 25 March 2013 (UTC)Reply[reply]

I am pleased to see this response from WMF legal and sets an example for other Wikimedia organizations. It avoids further unnecessary speculation, and is a good demonstration of openness and transparency, even when this is tricky to deliver and introduces minor risks. Thanks -- (talk) 22:45, 25 March 2013 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Thanks. It's a start.
I started putting together some notes at legal docs. Ultimately, it hurts the Wikimedia movement in many ways to not release these documents. It's against our values (particularly transparency and open access), it prevents Wikimedia chapters from learning and re-using the documents, it prevents people outside the Wikimedia community from learning and re-using the documents, it increases speculation (as Fæ notes), and I think we must take note that these works are being produced by donations to the Wikimedia Foundation. Given all of this, the reasons you list above really aren't relevant.
I think we'll start to see a bigger push for the legal and community advocacy team to get in line with the rest of the Wikimedia movement pretty soon. It doesn't make much sense for a group of people doing community advocacy work to not share (or at least promote) the values of the community it's advocating for. We're about free and open access. --MZMcBride (talk) 06:35, 26 March 2013 (UTC)Reply[reply]


Back in March, there was evidence that 2010 short-term contracts contained three year non-disparagement clauses[1], but 2011 contracts didn't contain that clause[2]. As it is now 2014, anyone on 2010 short-term contracts should be free of that three year clause currently or in the very near future. Could the WMF confirm that no Wikimedia contributors are currently bound by a non-disparagement clause. Pinging LVilla (WMF) as the above explanation of the reasons for not disclosing the agreement is fair enough, if problematic clauses are being promptly put out of circulation. John Vandenberg (talk) 01:59, 10 January 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Hi John! I just want you to know that I carried the question to Luis, since I saw your comment here. I think it's highly unlikely that anyone from the legal team is going to do an exhaustive search of all of our old contracts to determine whether there's any single random one that might still be within a non-disparagement period (that's a fairly massive time investment and they're just not resourced for it), HOWEVER - I can confirm that the standard contract does not include a non-disparagement and hasn't for at least a year. I would caution that I'm not a lawyer, and any contractor who wishes to, uhm, disparage?, should probably be sure that they're not still within one, but Luis is not - offhand, without deep research - aware of any contracts that might still be within the term. Philippe (WMF) (talk) 22:03, 13 January 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I am surprised it is so difficult; HR should have good records of who is on which version of a contract, especially if the organisation is trying to phase out an old version of the contract. In any case, thanks for your reply, which goes a long way towards answering my question, at least for contractors. I did ask regarding 'Wikimedia contributors', which would include contractors and employees. Is there anything in the employment contracts that have non-disparagement like effect? John Vandenberg (talk) 13:26, 25 March 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Good question.--Elvey (talk) 02:04, 28 May 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]