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Albert D. Kallal
I'm releasing a piece of software that will be helpful for a very niche group of people. I am picking beta testers (offering them a free copy) from a mailing list that includes a lot of people that are my competitors. In order to protect myself, I want a simple NDA for the beta software that says don't distribute or talk about the software to competitors or the public until release. Anyone have one? Some of the online NDAs are really long and complicated. I think I will scare people away.
I recommend that you talk to a lawyer rather than relying on an "open source" NDA to protect you. For example, assuming that you're in the United States, California has different requirements and offers different protections than Massachusetts.
If you still want to do it yourself, a service like Nolo (http://www.nolo.com) will let you download the forms and will walk you through the process of customizing it for your particular needs (via a set of instructions). However, I stress that I've never used Nolo, I don't know what it charges and I don't know how effective they are. I am hoping that other Joel readers will be able to offer concrete suggestions.
A beta is usually a 30-45 day trial of unreleased software just before release, so I doubt you'll get anyone to sign an NDA to participate. I've never been asked to sign an NDA for a beta - NDAs are usually only used when an idea-holder wants to discuss the early stages of that idea with a potential stakeholder and wants to protect his still-nascent IP.
nolo has a book out which provides sample boiler plate documents for a whole variety of circumstances. The version of the book I have is quite old but they seem to rev it periodically. I think the current version is something like legal guide to web and software dev. If you are in this business, it doesn't hurt to have as a reference in myopinion.
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