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SFLC Establishes Conservancy to Give Aid to Developers

Posted by iTech - 2006-04-05

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 member's 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 week's 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 don't have access to financial resources or support.

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.

"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.

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