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magneto

Are you allowed to bring scenes from your work for learning purposes?

Hi,

I noticed some studios are really lax about people taking scene files from work, copying them onto portable storage while others are so strict even internet access is behind virtual machines.

Of course the studios that allow employees to get scenes are not making this an official policy but they just seem to trust their employees, in case of leaks, etc.

I have been at some places where you could copy entire repository and no one would even notice, where if these were to be leaked online, the company could easily be destroyed. History shows that never happened at those places.

I have to say those generally people who do these things are really only interested about improving themselves, not stealing content to ruin a company.

A bit of a tangent: On one side we have this discussion, on the other hand there is studios like Double Negative that I admire greatly because they develop something in house like VDB Point Grids and they chose to share it with the world. On the other hand, there studios out there that think even a useless trivial script like Set Timeline Range in Houdini can not be shared, because it's a trade secret so has to be closely guarded to maintain competitiveness against other studios.

 

What do you think about it? What's your studio's policy on this?

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A generally rule of thumb, you should always ask for permission with files, especially videos, like that. Most contract's are work for hire, with the clause they own any work you do at the studio. This can even mean if you do a split second of personal project at your place of employment, most studio can claim ownership. I would make sure you carefully read your contract, and ask your managers. 

You do not want to loose your job because you took something home. I will emphasize strongly, in addition, NEVER show any work files or video's unless given permission, and certainly NEVER before a project comes out. Even on odforce, if you are asking for help, you need to learn the art of deconstructing a good example file. 

For instance on the draconian side. If you work in the Disney or Apple corporate umbrella most systems are locked down so you could not be able to bring anything home. They will even monitor the size of data packets leaving your personal workstation, plus in general block a majority of internet traffic, if they even allow you to have internet access. Generally there is even a second contract you have to sign on top of your studio contract if you are a third-party vendor. 

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It's probably good to get into the habit of thinking that anything you do at work, or with work assets, is the property of your workplace. If you keep work and personal materials separate, you'll never need to worry about losing your personal stuff. And more importantly, you won't have to worry about being accused of any sort of theft, leaks, or using work assets for personal gain. Best to play it safe and keep them well separated.

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18 hours ago, magneto said:

A bit of a tangent: On one side we have this discussion, on the other hand there is studios like Double Negative that I admire greatly because they develop something in house like VDB Point Grids and they chose to share it with the world.

You should understand that this type of thing goes through a cost benefit analysis. It's rarely simply benevolent.

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Unless You have a verifiable permission from Your supervisor, just don't do it. It might bring You in really unnecessary problems. And even then, what's the benefit, do You get paid for work at home? You might reply, You are stuck with a problem and want to solve it at home so You are covered at work. That is as honorable as short-sighted. You are not a brownie, doing all the work over night (unless You are one, but then why care about legal consequences). Also in a sane production environment, You supervisors probably want You to do You work in a predictable manner. And if things get stuck, what will happen from time to time, as Your very task is to solve new problems with every task, a sane production expects this and wants to know about it, so they can react. And this is nothing, that should be seen personal. It is simply not. It is just reasonable for all involved.

You have a problem with a production scene? It does make more sense to isolate the problem in a little test scene, that You can much more likely ask to take at home if You still want the  fairy tale number, but the huge benefit is You can share it with others or support ( which is outstanding ) and even for You alone it is much easier to work on the problem alone and not carrying a collapsing skyscraper with You, when You fiddling deep in a vop loop.

 

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Your employer owns what you create for the job. If working as a contractor they've almost certainly added a work for hire clause in the contract giving them complete ownership of anything you create for the contract.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Work_for_hire

Non-disclosure agreements usually include data files as part of the agreement and limit what can be done with them, like copying and transferring. 

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Non-disclosure_agreement

Depending on the employer there might be additional company policies you've agreed to that specifically prohibit this kind of activity. To recap, you don't own the files, you've been told by the owner of the files to use them only for the job, and you might have been told specifically not to make copies of the data or transfer the data. The answer here is to not do it. If you decide to do it anyway there's a clear wrongdoing even if it's for a seemingly harmless reason like learning.

This puts your everything in the hands of your employer which is probably not where you want to be. Even if a supervisor says yes when asked it could then come back to burn both of you because they're giving away something they don't have the right to. Yes, this a bit of fear mongering and serious consequences are unlikely but it's not worth messing with. You have very little to gain and everything to lose.

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