[Board] One concern on obligations for OSGeo projects
jo at frot.org
jo at frot.org
Wed Jun 4 07:00:13 EDT 2008
dear Luis, Jeroen,
On Wed, Jun 04, 2008 at 10:27:14AM +0200, Jeroen Ticheler wrote:
> Indeed we need to discuss this and it is on the agenda for Friday's
> board meeting. This is also a point of concern to the UN and hence the
> GeoNetwork project.
> >We want to know if being a part of OSGeo implies compliance with
> >export laws of US government, and among them the prohibition of being used in
> >the list of banned countries, present or future, that the USA
> >government declares.
Asking for feedback from other FOSS foundations has gained very little
real information apart from "If in doubt, you should ask a lawyer". :/
http://wiki.osgeo.org/wiki/US_Export_Restrictions - I started a wiki
page to contain any facts that we may find out :)
- Essentially, OSGeo as a US Corporation ought to comply
- But only US resident directors may really be "liable"
- And many affected services - e.g. sourceforge - have not *enforced*
- OSGeo's US-based hosting service also is subject to US export
restrictions, wherever the Foundation is based as a corporate entity.
- Projects that are uncomfortable with this can still publish their source code
and binaries from a distinct non-US location, as gvSIG does now.
- But if *OSGeo* were to republish embargoed code to a non-US based server
it would still be covered under US export restrictions
*However* there is the question of code copyright assignment. Some
projects assign copyright to OSGeo via a formal legal contract.
Other projects have AFAIK no *contract* with the OSGeo Corporation -
they are "part of OSGeo" via a consensus decision.
Does this make them legally subject to the same laws?
Yet we do need advice for the projects that are assigning
their copyright directly to the Foundation (MapGuide, GeoTools).
In the "worst case" i have heard outlined, if any project has just one
US-based developer, even if the project + infrastructure is outside the
US, the code base as a whole may still be subject to export restrictions!
At this point it just becomes a "circle of FUD" and we need legal advice :/
Autodesk must have done some of the relevant research on this, and their
in-house legal team may be willing to help out.
Jeroen's suggestion of using a non-US-jurisdiction local chapter
corporation to provide legal backing for projects that are very
concerned about reuse in embargoed countries makes a lot of sense.
FSF Europe does this for the FSF. We would then need to provision
non-US-based hosted services for svn and download, that the US servers
can sync from. All for a conceptual issue that USGov may never
exercise the option to enforce, when the impact is unclear :/
I am sorry that it is so hard to get a definite answer on this.
The FUD is a lot worse than the reality, i think, and getting it
resolved is on the agenda...
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