[Members] S is for Software once more?

Dave Cridland dave at cridland.net
Mon Mar 21 21:40:04 UTC 2016

XSF Hat:

On 21 March 2016 at 18:09, Arc Riley <arcriley at gmail.com> wrote:

> I'm in favor of this provided we have the volunteer manpower to do it
> responsibly.
> The Software Conservancy is essentially a full time job for Bradley Kuhn.
> Serving as a legal and financial umbrella for different projects bankrupted
> his time even when they only had a few to handle.
My understanding was that the SFC performs a considerable amount of GPL
enforcement, and presumably in order to do that requires copyright
assignment or exclusive licensing (a copyright term which doesn't mean
quite what it says). I'd be curious as to how much of the workload this
makes up.

I've personally no interest in having the XSF own copyright or enforce
copyright licensing - I'd expect people who want to enforce even the
trademarks it might hold for the projects (if any) to do so themselves,
with their own funding.

> For each project that wishes to join (and it shouldn't be just one) a
> conversation is needed with the developers and stakeholders to formalize
> their governance model. In the case of a dispute or disappearing leader,
> who represents that project? If half the developers want to fork the
> codebase, for which side are the assets being held? Every project is
> different and would want their own rules, so even if the umbrella is only
> for trademarks and copyrights this is a major issue. In essence, each
> project needs bylaws - and whoever is handling this from XSF's side both
> facilitating that process and then executing it for each project under the
> umbrella.
Interesting, and yes you're quite right. Not only do we need to manage
which fork is the "official" one, but also handle the case when projects
simply wither away - we need to be able to "strike them off the books" at
some point.

> In 2008 a project I'm part of that had grown to the point of needing a
> bank account and corporate entity was rejected from the Conservancy because
> they couldn't handle any more projects. Bradley worked with me to form a
> new foundation, and its been far more work than I could have forseen.
Ignite Realtime Hat:

Yes, I'm thoroughly put off the idea of forming any kind of legal entity.
Within the US, it'd be a significant challenge, and within the UK forming a
non-charitable charity requires a number of hoops to be jumped through.
(Forming a real charity requires the same accountancy/audit practises as a
huge publicly-traded corporation).

On the other hand, nobody's very clear about which umbrella, if any, we
could go to. Some umbrellas appear to want to impose their own structure
and make-up of the project, others appear to be driving specific agendas
which the community might well not buy into. The XSF has a clear agenda,
too, but as an XMPP project we feel it's pretty much aligned.

> To pull this off we need a champion volunteer who's willing to invest the
> insane amount of time needed to do it right, but it could also be very
> beneficial to the projects to have this as an option.

XSF Hat:

I wonder how much of this could be managed by requiring the projects to
supply some or all of the resources required?

I'd note though that there's a real danger that projects the XSF accepted
might be seen as having some special status - if we went ahead we need to
figure out a way to make it clear that this is absolutely not the case.
Equally, there's a risk of considering this in a very narrow way - not all
projects will have any use for this facility, and it'd be foolish to
consider that a project that has an existing legal existence is somehow
lesser than one that relies on the XSF for this.

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