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List Archive: gentoo-trustees
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To: gentoo-trustees@g.o
From: Grant Goodyear <g2boojum@g.o>
Subject: [DavidA@...: Re: [PSF-Board] Requesting permission to use parts of bylaws for Gentoo]
Date: Wed, 1 Dec 2004 12:37:23 -0600
----- Forwarded message from David Ascher <DavidA@...> -----

From: David Ascher <DavidA@...>
Date: Wed, 01 Dec 2004 10:24:17 -0800
To: Grant Goodyear <g2boojum@g.o>
Cc: gentoo-trustees@g.o
User-Agent: Mozilla Thunderbird 0.9 (Windows/20041103)
Subject: Re: [PSF-Board] Requesting permission to use parts of bylaws for

Grant Goodyear wrote:
>David Ascher wrote: [Wed Oct 20 2004, 01:18:03PM CDT]
>>You might want to talk to us about the bylaws before you 'blindly' adopt 
>>them, however.  We made some changes from the ASF bylaws for specific 
>>reasons, and those reasons may or may not apply to you.
>Thanks again.  The Gentoo trustees just had a phone conference to talk
>about the bylaws, and one topic that came up was the idea of "sponsor
>members".  Why are sponsor members a good idea for Python (that is, what
>problem does it solve)?  Also, would you point us to some of the other
>changes that you made, and the rationales behind them?

My memory isn't as good as it should be, and if you want I can get other 
people involved.

The PSF was created because of concerns around the IP situation for 
Python -- there were a stack of licenses, multiple owners for multiple 
bits, no good legal infrastructure in place, etc.

Sponsor members served a dual purpose at least in my mind:

1) to provide a way for corporations with a stake in Python to be 
represented in the organization (which is otherwise Apache-style 
meritocratic and individual-based)

2) to provide funding for the legal expenses we knew we'd face, both to 
seek IRS 501(c)3 status, to clarify the license, ownership, assignment 
process, etc.  Part of this is to build up a legal defense fund should 
we need it.

In practice, the fact that we had monies available has made it possible 
for the PSF to run the PyCon conference (by paying for the insurance, 
paying for the up-front costs, etc.), which in turn has made a profit 
every year.

This year we're also planning on spending some of our money (we have 
over $100k in the bank) on grants to support Python projects.

IIRC, the only other substantial changes we made to the bylaws were 
trying to modernize the rules w.r.t. the ability to have things like IRC 
 board meetings (I can't recall if we had to change the bylaws for that 
or just pass resolutions at in-person meetings).

I think the sponsor members was a good idea for Python, and AFAIK most 
members agree.  They have to be approved by the membership (I think a 
majority), and we've refused some sponsor member applications (who were 
just trying to get a spot for their logo on!), and AFAIK 
sponsor members are fine w/ the process as well.

The biggest downside of the sponsor member concept is that it emphasizes 
IRS regulations that you wouldn't otherwise have to worry about.  It's a 
long and tortuous topic, but basically a non-profit has to obey "public 
support" rules that ensure that its funding doesn't come from too few 
organizations (otherwise it would be seen as a tax shelter).  Sponsor 
members, because they give $2k every year, could hurt our public support 
 test w/ the IRS if we didn't get enough money from other folks.  If 
you have a broad enough support base (which we do), it could be a 
problem if charity status is important to you.

I don't know enough about Gentoo and the gentoo foundation's goals to 
know whether to recommend the same changes in your case.  Feel free to 
tell me more if you want.

-- David

----- End forwarded message -----

Grant Goodyear	
Gentoo Developer
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