[Dev] Reflection on the Relationship of Money and Parabola

Tiberiu C. Turbureanu tct at ceata.org
Tue Jan 6 11:40:43 GMT 2015

On 06.01.2015 08:33, Luke Shumaker wrote:
> At Sun, 04 Jan 2015 17:44:17 -0300,
> hellekin wrote:
>> In the last weeks we exchanged a lot about the need and possibility to
>> introduce money in the development of Parabola/GNU/Linux-libre.
>> Tiberiu offered to sponsor the project from the Fundația Ceata, which
>> presents a number of advantages, especially on of ethical alignment.
> Tiberiu has been very generous, and Ceata seems to be a good match.
> However, I don't think that we've given the SFC or SPI proper
> consideration, and I think that it would be a mistake to simply go for
> the first foundation that reaches out to us.

FWIW, I have offered you consulting and reassured you of Ceata's support
for Parabola.

It's your decision, but I tried to inform you the best I could and not
interfere with your process of decision-making, so that you know your
options and choose the organization which is best for Parabola.

> The way I'm looking at it, there are several services that joining a
> foundation would be able to offer that would be valuable to us.
>  - Handling donations
>  - Making donations tax-deductible
>  - Copyright(left) enforcement (should we ever find a GPL violation)
>  - Liability protection (should we ever find ourselves on the wrong
>    side of the court room).

> I know that the SFC offers all of these.

With a 10% commission of your donations (besides bank commissions) and
without any volunteer contribution to the project.

http://sfconservancy.org/members/apply/ (last heading, "How much does it
cost us financially to join Conservancy?")

Ceata is asking for 0% (zero) commission and incoming transfers in RON,
EUR and USD have 0% (zero) commission from our bank (special offer for
Romanian nonprofits).

Ceata had Sorin-Mihai Vârgolici (smv) involved in Parabola and probably
more will follow if we become your sponsor. I stated this already. And
they will not have a vote, so we don't end up in a conflict of interest
during our contract of collaboration.


> I don't know much about
> Ceata, and I suffer from stupid-American syndrome where I can only
> learn one spoken language.

This year we will have a bilingual website (Romanian and English) and
more documentation of our activities.

> Honestly, I think #3 would be the most valuable.  I'm not sure that
> it's terribly likely that there will ever be a GPL violation on any
> Parabola code.  But I know that if there were, we would be *totally*
> incapable of enforcing the GPL[^0].

The discussion was about donations, not about copyright. That's why I
didn't bring it up, because you didn't bring it up and didn't want to
make Parabola hackers feel threatened by a sponsor like Ceata ("they ask
for our copyright!"). If you want to assign Ceata copyright (and since
we are here, maybe you want the trademark rights too, so you are
protected), we can represent Parabola in court as a victim.

Ceata has offered legal advice for a number of projects, including
international ones like Free Technology Academy on copyleft violation.


We once dealt with one copyleft violation for one our software projects,
but we discussed and reached a solution outside of the court.

Courts are expensive and for suing someone (for copyleft violation) you
need funds. Less funds because it's less expensive in Romania than in
USA, true. SFC asks for donations to go in court against a GPL
violation, they don't dry out their accounts to sue someone without a
proper fundraising campaign.

Ceata has the legal experts to go in court, but we certainly can't
promise that we will spend our foundation funds to got in court for
Parabola (or any other project, internal or external) without a proper
fundraising campaign for that particular (so important) case. If
Parabola finds itself in this case, it's the project who has the main
responsibility in raising the funds, not Ceata's. Ceata offers the
accounts for raising funds for the court room, does some promotion and
repesents Parabola in the court room. That's it.

However, please allow me to be skeptical about copyleft violations of a
completely free distribution of GNU/Linux, which contribution to the
distribution (Arch) is based on is to blacklist nonfree software in that
distribution. Why not make Arch more proprietary instead of working on
Parabola to maltreat users? Innovation in Parabola which is not related
to blacklisting I assume goes upstream (in Arch or for specific
software, in that software project).

Unless your scripts are not specific and are very abstract, looking for
certain licenses, some malintentioned third party could use your scripts
to change them so instead (let's say) of blacklisting nonfree licenses,
they can blacklist copyleft licenses (*GPL and others), so they are sure
all it's left is software under lax (permissive) free licenses or
proprietary licenses that bundled together they can distribute it as a
nonfree system. But it's impossible with a GNU/Linux distribution to
delete all copyleft software and still have a functional system in the
end. With GNU/kBSD maybe yes, but then why not start from a *BSD with
less copyleft software (only GDB and other few important/popular GNU/GPL
software not rewritten (yet) under a lax free license). And if they
choose to start from a *BSD, they can't use your scripts anyway, because
the package management is different in *BSD distributions.

But the truth is I have never heard of a GPL violation suit of an entire
distribution, but instead on a particular GPL software included in the
distribution which was modified without providing free license and
sources for the modified version distributed as binary.

So if libretools (I've just noticed Luke's announcement) is a software
that could be useful to third parties in the proprietary world, by all
means, the author should assign the copyright to whatever organization
trusts more for the legal and maybe the fundraising support, too.

> With that in mind, them handling money for us seems like a small added
> bonus, IMO.

That's most of the work. Check SFC website for how many lawsuits they
handled. I could find only one case, for a very popular and repeatedly
violated by many parties of GPL software, BusyBox in routers (and
embedded devices in general, I assume).


Ceata covered the topic too:


Since then, several popular free software projects like Samba and Wine
have agreed to let SFC to handle compliance issues, but lawsuits for
these projects' copyleft violations were never started (and if
off-the-court solutions can be reached, that's perfect!)


Anyway, SFC is in two camps, free software *and* open source and
sponsors project which distribute proprietary parts/components/packages.
SPI too. I would think Parabola would join an equally ethical
organization, like Ceata.



And SPI never handled a lawsuit and don't promise to:

They offer legal council, of course (it's needed at least for
contracts). Ceata is no different in the regard of legal council. The
only difference between Ceata and SFC is that SFC have been in court for
*one* member project.

> I'm OK with receiving donations that cover expenses. 

These are the most efficient way to spend money, because you don't need
to pay any state taxes when paying bills (except for the VAT, but that's
true for an individual too). For a copyright contract, Romania asks for
a tax of 16%, which is small really and fixed (doesn't matter the value
of the contract).

> I think I'd even
> be OK with using donations to employ one of us full-time (though I'm
> skeptical that we would raise even close to enough money to do that).

For an employment contract in Romania, the taxes rise to 40% of the
gross salary (which is roughly like everywhere else). It's fixed, it
doesn't matter what is its value. The lower bound of how big can be a
salary is just under 200 EUR, though -- this gives you more flexibility.

The lower bound for copyright compensation per hour is smaller than in
the Western more developed countries, too. We have to check how much it
is, if you are interested now.

> And with money, we have to have some sort of formal administration.
> Someone would have to be a "representative" with Ceata or the SFC or
> whatever and decide where money goes.  Do we democratize all of those
> communications like we do everything else?  Do we elect a
> representative (republicanize) for efficiency?  As much as a I love
> our wholly democratic structure, it has severe inefficiencies.  For a
> year and a half (since July 2013) I've been trying to ratify a couple
> of wording changes to our social contract.  I mean, whatever.  But
> that's not really going to fly once a foundation with money is
> involved.

You don't only need a representative and leave her/him to take decisions
on behalf of the project after formal consultations. You need to
organize voting sessions and trust not the consensus, but the majority.
Consensus, as weird it may sound, can kill democracy and projects. A
project member should be able to say I vote against, because I have my
doubts regarding this, but I am with the project, whatever the majority
decides after all the information provided in the discussion on that matter.

> I don't recall if it was Tiberiu wrote, or something from the SFC (I
> can't find it now (strong beverage, remember :P), but I distinctly
> remember the mention that with the bureaucratic duties of being such a
> representative, one might have less time for technical contributions.

That's correct, I did when I presented you your options for receiving


Tiberiu C. Turbureanu
Președinte, Fundația Ceata

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