Software Freedom Conservancy Protects OSS
I came across something interesting on the Web the other day. The Software Freedom Law Center (SFLC), which provides pro-bono legal services to protect and promote freeware and open-source software, is branching out into finance and administration. The SFLC recently established the Software Freedom Conservancy, which will offer developers who work with these kinds of software with the benefits that come with being a tax-exempt corporate organization without having to join one.
The Software Freedom Conservancy (http://conservancy.softwarefreedom.org) will sponsor for freeware and open-source software projects by providing free financial and administrative services to members. These services include protecting individual developers from personal liability for their projects and providing these projects with tax-exempt status, allowing them to receive tax-deductible donations.
Additionally, the Conservancy will file a single tax return to covers each member’s projects and will handle other corporate and tax-related issues on behalf of its members, which may be especially advantageous at this time of year. The Conservancy also holds certain assets and manages them at the discretion of the project’s developers, which can potentially remove fiscal burdens and allow them to focus on software innovation.
I’d encourage any independent readers who are also members of the open-source community to give these organizations a look. After all, you’re software developers, not lawyers or accountants. However, make sure to read all contracts very carefully, and try to get a third party who knows about these things to check out what you’ll be signing.