Okay, it’s time for me to get on my soapbox for a few minutes…
Now, an NDA is just what it means: Non-Disclosure Agreement. That means, by signing an NDA, or reading one online and agreeing to its terms, you will follow the request of the person or company and keep your yap shut about the software they’re about to give you access to. They’re allowing you access to their software (yes, their software) for testing purposes, not so you can go off and write articles about it. They’re giving you access to their software, and all they’re asking for in return is for you to test the software out so you can help them isolate bugs (and report said bugs back to them), with the ultimate goal of trying to make the software better. Oh, and one more thing: To keep quiet about the software they’re supplying to you.
They’re not giving you access to the software so you can crank out an article, or burn copies for your friends, or post disk images on some P2P site. An NDA is a legally-binding document between you (and only you) and the company who’s asking you to sign it. By signing the NDA, you agree not to share the software with anyone else, or to show it to someone else, or to even talk about it.
But violators prevail, and ultimately mess things up for the rest of us tight-lipped ones.
Only bad things will happen from violating an NDA. First, you could find yourself in a buttload of legal trouble. But what’s more, you’re messing things up for everyone else out there who signs and agrees to the very same NDA you’ve signed. Those of us who follow the NDA to the letter of the LAW run the risk of being penalized by not gaining access to beta release software in the future.
By violating the NDA, you’re essentially giving away the software company’s trade secrets. Secrets that their competitors could then use against them, costing God only knows how much in lost revenue, etc.
Remember: Being asked to sign an NDA is a privilege, not a right. If you’re asked to agree to an NDA and you feel like you can’t keep quiet about what you’re about to be given access to, you should just turn around and walk away.
Don’t ruin it for the rest of us. Privileges can be revoked for everyone (not just you) at any time.
Off my soapbox now.
What’s your feeling on NDAs and those who violate them?