Since Alex forwarded the original to -nfp, I'll forward my response as
well. I didn't reply on -nfp originally because it started on -core.
-------- Forwarded Message --------
From: Ferris McCormick <firstname.lastname@example.org>
To: Yuri Vasilevski <email@example.com>
Cc: trustees <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Subject: Re: [gentoo-core] Software in the Public Interest
Date: Mon, 11 Aug 2008 11:50:22 +0000
Thanks a lot. I think we have looking for some of this information.
All, I've added a couple comments.
On Sun, 2008-08-10 at 23:32 -0500, Yuri Vasilevski wrote:
> I am currently at DebConf in Argentina, and today there was a BoF
> by Bdale Garbee about SPI  with another 5 members of the SPI board
> present and participating. And that reminded me about the discussions
> that where happening on this list some time ago, so after the BoF I
> approached Luk Claes (one of the members of the board and a friend) to
> ask him about the doubts regarding how SPI could work and what could
> be the advantages and the disadvantages of Gentoo having a relationship
> with SPI.
> From what we talked, SPI could provide three services to Gentoo:
> 1) Helping to take care of all the paperwork regarding legal status,
> trademarks, copyright and such.
> 2) Offering legal advice and helping in court for free. And if they can,
> that's not only limited to USA, but also to other countries.
> (As an example he told me that there was a case where someone
> registered a domain name in Spain with debian in it and they managed
> to contact a Spanish lawyer and he arranged a settlement for that
> 3) Gentoo can accept (in some cases tax deductible) donations through
> them in the USA. For this they accept four ways making the donations
> (two electronic ones, checks and wire transfers), as well as, they
> provide ways to channel this money where it's needed (like in the
> case of DebConfs that some of Debian's money that came from donations
> in the USA was made available for use in this conference in
> And the good part is that the tree options are completely independent,
> so Gentoo, or any project for that matter, can join with any subset of
> the three options mentioned above.
> I also asked whenever they were in a position to accept a project the
> size of Gentoo and I was told that they should be able to accept Gentoo.
I would think so. Debian is a member, I believe. So also is the IRC
> Also being, us gentoo developers, part of a big free software project
> makes us by default contributing (aka voting) members of SPI in case we
> (as individual developers) join it, so we should be able to have some
> influence on how things are run within SPI, as well as, if some people
> are interested they should be eligible for being a member of the
> So, After this very long preamble I would like to express that I think
> we should seriously consider joining SPI with, maybe, just a subset of
> the options they provide. And I'll go option by option (in reverse
> order) now:
> 3) This one I'm unsure, if I am not mistaken, Gentoo Foundation has the
> right status to be able to accept tax deductible donations. So for
> me it would make sense to join if the SPI method is more flexible and
> makes it easier and friendlier for the donor to make the donation. Or
> else it might also make sense to have it as a completely parallel
> channel and see how it works so in case it works well, Gentoo will be
> able at some point to free itself from dealing with the related
We are a registered not for profit with the State of New Mexico, but we
do not have 501(c)(3) Federal tax status (well, I don't think we are
501(c)<anything>). So this is useful.
> 2) I think this one is very good to have, as well as, it is a good way
> to get to know SPI better and to see if later we should outsource
> more responsibilities to them. So for me, this reason alone is good
> enough to join it and then see how open, trustworthy and efficient
> they are so we can make a qualified decision on whenever to change or
> not our status within SPI.
This is *extremely* useful. We do not have international law expertise,
and lawyers who do are in high demand and so expensive. This could also
come in handy if someone actually takes the IRC/Freenode grumbling
beyond the grumbling stage.
Also most useful when we start talking about licensing others to sell
Gentoo-branded mugs and such outside the US (such as in Russia).
> 1) This is the most delicate one and the one I have no clue about. I
> don't know what is involved in keeping all the paperwork done, nor
> how much time and energy it consumes. So I can not say how much sense
> does it make to do it in house as apposed to outsourcing it.
We're legal at this stage, and so far as New Mexico is concerned, the
paperwork for that costs us about 10 minutes and 10 dollars / year. The
money goes to the state, so it is a fixed expense anyway.
> So, I would like you to consider my proposal as well as to offer you my
> services as proxy for any questions you might have for the SPI board
> members here at DebConf, or, you can always contact them directly 
> Here is also some info on guidelines for the projects wanting to join:
> Kindest regards,
>  https://penta.debconf.org/dc8_schedule/events/223.en.html
>  http://www.spi-inc.org/contact
Ferris McCormick (P44646, MI) <email@example.com>
Developer, Gentoo Linux (Devrel, Sparc, Userrel, Trustees)