Google strongly believes in open source and wants to empower you to contribute to the wider community. There are serious legal implications anytime a Googler releases code, so we have processes you must follow that help us comply with our legal and ethical obligations.
Why open source?
There are variety of good reasons to release something under an open source license, from “more perspectives make better software” to “establishing a standard.” It is important to building a sustainable project to consider your reasons for open sourcing and use these as guidance for decision making.
Releasing new open source projects
Google is proud to release a lot of code under open source licenses. Whether it’s an official Google product with a dedicated team or a 20% side project, we’ll help you get the necessary approval to release. When you accept contributions from the external community, we’ll work with you to ensure CLAs (Contributor License Agreements) are signed.
Patching existing open source projects
Google is usually happy to contribute patches to open source projects, but your patches must first be reviewed to ensure no legal or IP problems arise — never sign a CLA (Contributor License Agreement) without approval. Don’t worry, it’s a quick and minimal process to get your patches approved. This process is for all open source projects, whether or not Google owns the code.
Although Google generally owns the IP rights to any development done during your employment, full-time employees in good standing may request that Google release a copyright to you. You can file a request through IARC, the Invention Assignment Review Committee.
We define a code snippet as less than 100 lines of self-contained code scrubbed of any confidential Google information. If you’d like to post snippets on Stack Overflow (SO) or other such sites, please read go/patching.
A brief word about interns
We often see a small number of interns who want to be involved in releasing open source. Often, this is so they can continue a bit of research or to forward other open source goals of the company. In this regard, interns are no different than regular engineers and may proceed with their manager’s approval.
However, interns are not encouraged to take part in open source activities outside of their primary project — this is simply because internships are brief and generally do not include 20% time.
Because internships have inflexible end dates, interns should contact emailremoved@ as soon as they’ve decided they want to open source their work. Early notification gives us enough time to navigate any issues while the intern is still working at Google.
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