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The IRS vs. Open Source

jsm My surreal experience getting 501(c)(3) status (356 comments)

I (like many) have had a nightmarish experience trying to get 501(c)(3) status for the open-source NGO I've started, a process that has taken over 2 years now. I could probably write a book about the experience. The IRS tax-exemption process is out-of-touch and ineffective at best, and political and corrupt at worst. There are many anecdotes I could share, but here are a couple:

We met with Lois Lerner and members of her team about our tax-exempt status, and the whole meeting was about the dysfunctional relationship between the IRS and another USG department, not a word about the merits of the case.

At one point in a recent meeting with the IRS, they said my anti-censorship software could be used to spread child porn. I asked, well, what if 20 years ago the Web itself was being created by an NGO seeking tax-exempt status? Would the IRS block it because the Web could be used to spread child porn? The IRS lawyers indicated a probable yes.

It looks like the recent IRS "scandal" has been a political fabrication (cherry-picked transcripts, false insinuations against Obama), but I hope it leads to a complete overhaul of the tax-exemption process. My experience makes me wonder how many great projects have died on the vine waiting for their tax-exempt status from the IRS.

FYI, for 501(c)(3) status, there is a list of "exempt purposes" that qualify, as interpreted by IRS lawyers with a mountain of very opaque precedent. Two of the exempt purposes that open-source software *should* qualify under are "scientific" (computer science) and "educational" (open-source software teaches programming). But to the out-of-touch IRS, open-source is a "new" concept, and so they are overly cautious.

about a year and a half ago

CERN Experiment Indicates Faster-Than-Light Neutrinos

jsm Imaginary mass or imaginary energy? (1088 comments)

From analyzing gamma, wouldn't a speed greater than light imply the neutrino has either imaginary mass or imaginary energy?

more than 3 years ago

JavaScript Creator Talks About the Future

jsm Re:Most important of all? (305 comments)

Haskell will lose it's cool when someone writes a real program in it and not just code examples.

Actually, a major Perl 6 implementation, "Pugs", was written in Haskell. This is one reason Perl 6 has some Haskell features in it.

more than 3 years ago

How Not To Design a Protocol

jsm Re:Not completely nonsensical... (186 comments)

Thanks for this thoughtful response. But:

5. Indeed, at least AJAX enables somewhat sane masking of this, but the only-one-request-per-response character of the protocol means a lot of things cannot be done efficiently. If HTTP had allowed arbitrary server-side HTTP responses for the duration of a persistent http connection, that would have greatly alleviated the inefficiencies that AJAX methods strive to mask.

Well... what's wrong with using HTTP 1.1 persistent connections? They do allow multiple arbitrary HTTP responses over a single connection, efficiently.

I'm coming here late, but after reading the comments I still don't see the problems with HTTP. There does seem to be a lot of misunderstanding of the protocol and its history, though.

more than 4 years ago

EFF Says 'Stop Using Haystack'

jsm Re:Alternatives? (136 comments)

There are lots of alternatives. I like my own CGIProxy, but there's also Tor, Glype, PHProxy, UltraReach, etc. etc. Some of these have been around since the 1900's.

more than 4 years ago

Google Responds To Net Neutrality Reviews

jsm Re:question (265 comments)

Land lines are laid with significant cost to our "commons", i.e. rights-of-way, etc. But similarly, the EM spectrum, and therefore wireless bandwidth, is a part of our commons too.

Don't know if you were getting at this, but wireless companies have certainly *not* made their whole business with no cost to the rest of us. It's perfectly reasonable to regulate them.

more than 4 years ago

Facebook's Zuckerberg Says Forget Privacy

jsm So he'd be OK with publishing stuff about him? (415 comments)

Hmm, I seem to recall Eric Schmidt (Google CEO) saying the same thing a few years ago. However, when someone at CNET published personal info about him that was found only through Google, there was quite an uproar.

So, I wonder what we can find out about Mark Zuckerberg?

about 5 years ago

Behind China's Great Firewall

jsm Re:Silver lining... (148 comments)

If that news report was the recent article on PBS' News Hour, then don't forget that those students they interviewed were hand-picked by the Chinese authorities for the interview.

Not that it wasn't informative. Maybe there are many who share their view. One interesting thing the students said was that non-Chinese people don't appreciate how much change the Chinese government *has* allowed, how much different it is now than it was. While I hope that's true, I'd counter that the Chinese government hasn't changed voluntarily, they've been forced to by modern global changes, or else they'd miss out on the huge benefits of e.g. the Internet.

more than 6 years ago


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