SFLC Establishes Conservancy to Give Aid to Developers

By Peter Galli  |  Posted 2006-04-03 Print this article Print

The Software Freedom Law Center has set up the Conservancy to provide financial and administrative services to open-source developers.

BOSTON—Free and open-source developers looking for free financial and administrative help received good news at the LinuxWorld Conference here on April 3 with the establishment of the Software Freedom Conservancy. The Software Freedom Law Center, a provider of pro-bono legal services to protect and advance free and open-source software, has set up the Conservancy to provide free financial and administrative services to those projects. The Conservancy will also provide individual developers protection from personal liability for their projects and will work to get participating projects tax-exempt status, which will allow them to receive tax deductible donations.
The Conservancy will also file a single tax return that covers each of the members projects and will handle other corporate and tax related issues on behalf of its members, said Dan Ravicher, legal director for the Software Freedom Law Center and one of the initial directors of the Conservancy, in a statement.
The Conservancy can also hold project assets and manage them at the discretion of the project, which removes another fiscal burden from developers who are focused on software innovation, he said. The establishment of the Conservancy follows hot on the heels of last weeks news of a fund established by the OSDL (Open Source Development Labs), a global consortium dedicated to accelerating the adoption of Linux and open-source software, that will provide financial support to software developers working on Linux and open-source community projects that dont have access to financial resources or support. Click here to read more about the OSDL Fund. The mission of the Conservancy is to provide free and open-source software developers with all of the benefits of being a tax-exempt corporate entity, without them having to do any of the work of setting up and maintaining this, Ravicher said. Read more here about how the SFLC dismissed allegations of GNU General Public License violations in relation to the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002. "Letting projects pass off the mundane administrative burdens placed on those wishing to benefit from nonprofit status is a significant way to keep developers focused on what they do best: writing software," he said. Initial members include the Wine Project, SurveyOS, BusyBox and uClibc. "We understand the importance of having our legal, financial and administration houses in order, but our focus and energy needs to be on our code," said Wine Project leader Alexandre Julliard. "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," he said. Check out eWEEK.coms for the latest open-source news, reviews and analysis.
Peter Galli has been a financial/technology reporter for 12 years at leading publications in South Africa, the UK and the US. He has been Investment Editor of South Africa's Business Day Newspaper, the sister publication of the Financial Times of London.

He was also Group Financial Communications Manager for First National Bank, the second largest banking group in South Africa before moving on to become Executive News Editor of Business Report, the largest daily financial newspaper in South Africa, owned by the global Independent Newspapers group.

He was responsible for a national reporting team of 20 based in four bureaus. He also edited and contributed to its weekly technology page, and launched a financial and technology radio service supplying daily news bulletins to the national broadcaster, the South African Broadcasting Corporation, which were then distributed to some 50 radio stations across the country.

He was then transferred to San Francisco as Business Report's U.S. Correspondent to cover Silicon Valley, trade and finance between the US, Europe and emerging markets like South Africa. After serving that role for more than two years, he joined eWeek as a Senior Editor, covering software platforms in August 2000.

He has comprehensively covered Microsoft and its Windows and .Net platforms, as well as the many legal challenges it has faced. He has also focused on Sun Microsystems and its Solaris operating environment, Java and Unix offerings. He covers developments in the open source community, particularly around the Linux kernel and the effects it will have on the enterprise.

He has written extensively about new products for the Linux and Unix platforms, the development of open standards and critically looked at the potential Linux has to offer an alternative operating system and platform to Windows, .Net and Unix-based solutions like Solaris.

His interviews with senior industry executives include Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer, Linus Torvalds, the original developer of the Linux operating system, Sun CEO Scot McNealy, and Bill Zeitler, a senior vice president at IBM.

For numerous examples of his writing you can search under his name at the eWEEK Website at www.eweek.com.


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