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New Conservancy Offers Gratis Services to FOSS

ScuttleMonkey posted about 8 years ago | from the banding-together dept.


Anonymous Coward writes "Yahoo! News is reporting on the launch of the Software Freedom Conservancy. The new organization, started by Bradley Kuhn, Eben Moglen, and Daniel Ravicher, will serve to provide member projects with free financial management and administrative services. The new group was established by the Software Freedom Law Center, which was started by Moglen and Ravicher one year ago."

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Did I miss something? (3, Funny)

toomz (175524) | about 8 years ago | (#15052565)

Financial management for free software???

Re:Did I miss something? (2, Funny)

Otter (3800) | about 8 years ago | (#15052628)

It avoids those division-by-zero errors you'd get if you used an accounting package designed for normal businesses.

Re:Did I miss something? (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15052643)

Web servers, hard disc copies, etc. etc. -- That is usually where the "click here to donate" moneys go. A lot of open source projects with big ideas in mind fell flat on their face due to money problems, if I am not mistaken. I think this is a good idea. Nice to see people helping out the little guy. Although, when you need an accountant, you pretty much just let go of the "garage" feeling, and have taken your first steps into the world of Big Business(TM).

Yes, you missed something (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15052708)

English words, being what they are, have multiple meanings. In this context, 'free' means 'has liberty', not 'zero cost'.

Its required some project are doing over $100 000 (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15054102)

A month.

Donations can be a pain a times you have to keep books for the tax man.

Not all Open Source projects don't have cash making arms. Ie paid support you get to the top of the email list.

Closed minded people thinking that Closed Source is the only thing that makes money.

He's gone.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15052597)

FTFA: ...said Alexandre Julliard, The Wine Project, one of the Conservancy's initial members. "The Software Freedom Conservancy gives us the opportunity to join with fellow community projects to gain needed legal and fiscal protections in a market where disruptive technologies such as open source software sometimes generate aggressive actions from other market participants."

Dude, you sound like a business guy. You couldn't just say, "We joined so we don't have to come up with the money if we get our asses sued off by patent trolls or by someone who owns the rights to technology that we might have accidently violated." ?

How many... (0, Troll)

Illbay (700081) | about 8 years ago | (#15052608)

...billable hours for attorneys' firms will be paid out from this fund?

Can you say "slush?"

Re:How many... (0, Troll)

tpgp (48001) | about 8 years ago | (#15052668)

Can you say "slush?"

Meh. Troll.

The FSF does nothing but good - I'm willing to bet most of the work done by attorneys for this Conservancy will be pro-bono.

I bet you're just a conservative annoyed by them calling it a 'Conservancy' ;-)

Re:How many... (1)

Illbay (700081) | about 8 years ago | (#15054955)

"FSF does nothing but good" is debatable. Few human institutions are so altruistic.

But that's not the issue I'm speaking to.

Rather, it is that the "legalists" have wormed their way so deeply into our social fabric that the fabric has begun to rot and fray.

Whenever I see something like "so-and-so has established a financial services foundation to help kumquat growers," my immediate reaction is "lawyers have just created another source of lucre that allows them to profit by doing essentially nothing but 'protect' the unwary from the traps and deadfalls that they themselves have set through our legal system."

They play on our greed, of course, just like all confidence tricksters.

Hmm (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15052631)

Perhaps this could be of some use to projects like OpenBSD that are not in a position to create their own not for profit entities.

Hope it works out (3, Informative)

richg74 (650636) | about 8 years ago | (#15052777)

Having been involved in setting up a couple of non-profit organizations, I can testify that getting all the paperwork done and filed with the IRS can be a real pain. (The initial application, Form 1023, is currently 28 pages long -- not counting required attachments -- and comes with 38 pages of instructions.) As a way to spend your time, it's almost as attractive as having a root canal.

Sizable organizations can generally bite the bullet and get it done, but this might be a real help to some smaller projects, or those just getting started.

Huh? (1)

Arandir (19206) | about 8 years ago | (#15052778)

For two decades the FSF has been yelling that Free Software is not hostile to commerce, that you can sell Free Software, and that you can make a living writing Free Software. They keep saying that freedom, and not price or marketability, separate it from proprietary software.

So why now the turnabout? Why are key members of the FSF now impliying that Free Software needs to be a charity case?

Re:Huh? (2, Insightful)

Knuckles (8964) | about 8 years ago | (#15052861)

Free Software is not hostile to commerce


that you can sell Free Software

I'm not sure they ever made that claim. That you are allowed to, yes, That you can serives on top, yes. That it will be easy licensing the free software itself for a fee, no.
Anyway, I'll say "RedHat".

and that you can make a living writing Free Software

Countless people

So why now the turnabout? Why are key members of the FSF now impliying that Free Software needs to be a charity case

Ther is no turnabout. For a variety of reasons, not all free software projects can get the necessary funding, especially in the beginning- in fact, most can not. This as such does not make them any less viable or at least desireable from a user's point of view, and if you want to see a flourishing free software ecosystem.

Just like the fact (in and of itself) that many proprietary software companies/projects do not make money for a long time and depend on corporate funding does not make these projects any more viable.

Re:Huh? (1)

Arandir (19206) | about 8 years ago | (#15053415)

Just like the fact (in and of itself) that many proprietary software companies/projects do not make money for a long time and depend on corporate funding does not make these projects any more viable.

The corporate funding is an investment. The investors expect the projects to be financially successful. Few of them are, which is why these sorts of investments are risky, and why it's so hard to prove yourself worthy of the funding. But the bottom line is that the funds will eventually get reimbursed.

But that is not what this conservancy is about. It is a pure charity. It is an admission that the projects are not commercially viable, and that they need charitable donations in order to "compete" with proprietary software. It is this point which is counter to the prior FSF stance on commercial Free Software. I have nothing against charity, and in fact donate to a few projects. I only find it odd that the FSF is now changing its tune.

Stop being a twat (1)

Chuck Chunder (21021) | about 8 years ago | (#15053627)

It is not an admission of anything or changing any tune from the FSF (The FSF itself is a non-profit after all).

The FSF have never said that commercial Free Software is the only way to go, merely the Free Software is not counter to commercial development. Free software has been developed commercially. Free software has been developed non commercially. This conservancy doesn't change that, it merely aims to help service one part of a very broad Free Software church.

Re:Stop being a twat (0, Flamebait)

Arandir (19206) | about 8 years ago | (#15054065)

it merely aims to help service one part of a very broad Free Software church.

Church? Church! Methinks you're taking this WAY too seriously.

Re:Huh? (1)

Knuckles (8964) | about 8 years ago | (#15055763)

I don't see it that way. To me it's more like IBM's research labs. Enable people to run with their ideas, and eventually usable stuff will come out of it.

Nobody in the FSF ever said that it is simple to make money off free software, and they are very aware of the fact that the environment is in many parts still hostile. In the conservancy's case, I guess it's about helping free software grow despite this hostility. You only see it as a charity because it's free software and you are predisposed to see it that way, otherwise, why would you have said "the FSF has been yelling" in the OP.

Nobody calls Smart [smart.com] a charity financed by DaimlerChrysler, although Smart never made money. It's about long-term strategy.

Re:Huh? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15054395)

Huh? Key members? This looks like a way for a couple guys to make some money off a false perception about working on free software. That's the way it seems on the surface to me (let's get some funding from corporations in a slush fund kind of way--in return they can say they donated to free software somehow). Being associated with a good organization doesn't mean when you jump ship you aren't looking for a bigger piece of the pie (nor that you learned anything from your prior work). It's too bad the world works this way.

International ? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15052799)

as FOSS is a worldwide movement will they be offering these services globally ? or is this another US only club ?

Re:International ? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15052832)

As we are frequently reminded on here of how enlightened the rest of the world is, maybe it doesn't need a service like this to fall back on?

Re:International ? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15053526)

Why does the US constantly have to come to the rescue of everyone else? Don't have any intiative to do it yourself? Tough.

Frther Notes at Groklaw (1)

Stephen Samuel (106962) | about 8 years ago | (#15052960)

Pamela Jones is also gushing about the Software Freedom Conservancy at Groklaw [groklaw.net].

Having dedicated (para)legal and accounting types to handle the administrivia of maintaining Non Profit (Charitable) status, could be a godsend for the projects that manage to get in on this opportunity.

Alternative (1)

jbeaupre (752124) | about 8 years ago | (#15052966)

I would like to announce that I will gladly handle the paperwork so that anyone can take advantage of tax exempt status. Just assign me all your copyrights so that we can proceed. Uh, nevermind the fine print...

Just teasing. I know that's not what's going on here. But hopefully people will check the fine print just in case.

It would be nice if it worked... (2, Insightful)

Unequivocal (155957) | about 8 years ago | (#15053390)

I tried to use the Free legal resources touted last year by these guys. I called up and some harried guy answered the phone (presumably Moglen) and he said he'd have to call me back. I left my number and never heard from them again. It was so disorderly as to be amusing. But it was not effective OSS legal advice for the little guy, by any stretch. Maybe they'll get it right on this one, or eventually..

Yahoo! News reporting it? No. (1)

julesh (229690) | about 8 years ago | (#15056183)

Yahoo! News is reporting on the launch of the Software Freedom Conservancy

No it isn't, the link goes to a PR Newswire page, which is an automatic feed that is carried by Yahoo!. In this case, all we can say is that Yahoo is redistributing an article that was written, published and paid for by the Software Freedom Conservancy on the their own launch.

In case you don't understand the significance of this, the way it was originally written implies that Yahoo! believes this to be significant enough to report on it. They made no such assessment.

Also, why was this article submitted (and published) with a mailto link to 'nobody@example.com'? That's hardly a useful address.
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