[OpenAFS] Funding the formation of an OpenAFS Foundation

Troy Benjegerdes hozer@hozed.org
Wed, 26 Sep 2012 23:10:22 -0500

Have the USENIX association lawyers been made aware they are accepting funds in a manner which may expose them to trademark litigation from IBM? Either this trademark IS an issue, and blocks creation of a foundation, and ANYONE that accepts funds for doing work on 'OpenAFS' is potentially liable, or it's not.

Is there a statement to what ends a donation to the Usenix openafs fund would be used for?

On Wed, Sep 26, 2012 at 01:00:51PM -0400, Jeffrey Altman wrote:
> On 9/26/2012 12:12 PM, Troy Benjegerdes wrote:
> > Has someone formed a legal organization, and filed 501.c3 paperwork,
> > or not? What are the charitable goals? If they have, where do I send 
> > a check for my $50 tax-deductible charitable contribution.
> On the www.openafs.org site there is a "Donate" link which takes you to:
>   http://static.usenix.org/about/openafs/
> which describes how a 501c3 tax deductible donation can be made to the
> Usenix OpenAFS Fund.  The page reads:
> [begin quote]
> USENIX is accepting donations on behalf of The OpenAFS Project through
> the OpenAFS Fund. Donations can be made by sending a check, drawn on a
> U.S. bank, made out to the USENIX Association, to:
>   OpenAFS Fund
>   USENIX Association
>   2560 Ninth St., Suite 215
>   Berkeley, CA 94710
> Your contribution may be tax-deductible as allowed by law under IRS Code
> Section 501(c)(3). Check with your tax advisor to determine whether your
> contribution is fully or partially tax-deductible.
> [end quote]
> OpenAFS itself does not exist as a legal corporate entity.  The OpenAFS
> Elders represent the community as an unincorporated association.   There
> are significant legal and financial hurdles that must be addressed
> before an OpenAFS Foundation can be formed.   Most open source projects
> do not have their own legal entity but work under an umbrella
> organization.   OpenAFS is complicated because the IBM Public License
> 1.0 is unique and is in conflict with the requirements of many of the
> umbrella orgs.  In addition, OpenAFS ships kernel drivers which
> increasingly require digital signatures and umbrella orgs are loath to
> be responsible for signing.  In addition, the licensing of the source
> code itself is not as clean as one would like.  Not to mention the
> trademark and protocol compatibility issues that IBM has never fully
> resolved.
> Finally, running an organization requires money.  You need to pay for at
> least a part time executive director, accountants, lawyers and possibly
> insurance.  Then there really should be funding for the gatekeepers, the
> system administration and web site management.  All things which up to
> this point have been donated in kind but which have substantial costs.
> A bare bones Foundation that does not but maintain the status quo will
> cost a minimum of six figures and that does not begin to address the
> development of new features or functionality.
> Finally, any organization requires a business plan.  When I wrote the
> plan for the MIT Kerberos Consortium the plan outlined seven years of
> budgets and goals along with fund raising targets, how contributors
> would benefit, and what the minimum financial commitments were for
> formation, etc.
> In 2008, the OpenAFS Elders and the community were working on a plan.
> The announcement of the plan was made on 6 May 2008.
>   http://lists.openafs.org/pipermail/openafs-announce/2008/000242.html
> A follow up providing details was made on 24 Sept 2008:
>   http://lists.openafs.org/pipermail/openafs-announce/2008/000259.html
> The details are available at http://www.openafs.org/foundation.
> After a year of work it was concluded that for a variety of reasons the
> plan to incorporate could not move forward.  The reasoning was detailed
> in an e-mail sent on 18 Aug 2009:
>   http://lists.openafs.org/pipermail/openafs-announce/2009/000303.html
> All of this information is publicly available.   The OpenAFS Elders have
> continued to work with IBM on the trademark and other legal issues
> without coming to a resolution sufficient to meet our needs.  Umbrella
> organizations such as the Software Freedom Conservancy have continued to
> discuss options with us but the legal issues are a significant challenge.
> The OpenAFS Elders continue to evaluate options for moving forward.  In
> the meantime, if you would like to donate money, you can do so via the
> Usenix Fund.  If you would like to donate code, you can do so via
> gerrit.openafs.org.
> Jeffrey Altman