a question about speaking out for, or as part of, the Foundation

Jo Walsh jo at frot.org
Mon Mar 13 16:36:58 PST 2006

dear osgeo discussion,

http://publicgeodata.org is a campaign i've been working on with 
Benjamin Henrion, with support from Rufus Pollock of the 
Open Knowledge Foundation, to raise awareness about the upcoming 
INSPIRE directive establishing a european spatial data infrastructure. 

This week, hopefully Wednesday, we are sending an open letter to the
MEPs who sit on the Environment committee which is voting on a whole
raft of "intellectual property rights" amendments to the legislation
on the 21st, to go forward to the Parliament in May or June. 
http://intevation.de/pipermail/freegis-list/2006-March/002799.html is
a recent braindump; http://publicgeodata.org/Open_Letter is the latest
draft of the letter we are planning to send. 

MarkusN wrote us a really great statement of support from OSGeo,
to put on the campaign website, and i heard it was discussed and
formally approved of at the last board meeting:

Representative entities listen to messages more attentively if they
come from formalised organisations, that is a token that the message
comes from a broad grouping. The more affiliations that are attached
to the open letter, the better.

I would absolutely love to persuade Markus to sign the Open Letter as
well, on behalf of OSGeo, as a resonant-sounding organisation. 

It made complete sense to put the statement of support through a board
discussion, especially while the foundation is still finding its
foundation, and so i was quite happy to wait a couple of weeks to get it. 
But the Open Letter we really need to send this Wednesday, to make sure
MEPs have a week to make time in their heads for it before the 21st vote. 

These are my questions:

- Would Markus be empowered to sign our letter, in his capacity as a
  board member of OSGeo? 

- Would it make a difference if he signed, "on behalf of", or just
  "board member"?

- If Markus is not so empowered, is there a way in which he can be
  empowered, that does not involve a full board telecon to decide?

If this seems like pressure in terms of timing, or unreasonable in
terms of tone, that is not my intention; i just want to sound out the 
board members on this in public. It would be great to get a 'yes' to Q1 
but i don't completely expect that. By the way, if anyone else on this 
list based in Europe would be prepared to add their signature and
affiliation to the letter, that would be wonderful. 

This leads me into a more general organisational question which is more 
philosophical than practical right now,    

- More generally, if one of us has a message that would travel better
  if it was "on behalf of OSGeo", is there a process for deciding on
  whether the message is a good fit? Is this a situation where the
  board collectively is the only authority empowered to speak out?


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