[OSGeo-Discuss] Software Copyright ownership

Allan Doyle afdoyle at MIT.EDU
Mon Dec 14 10:17:07 PST 2009

Oops. One more bit about this.

On Dec 14, 2009, at 1:06 PM, Allan Doyle wrote:

> On Dec 13, 2009, at 7:26 PM, Christopher Schmidt wrote:
> [...]
>>> My private opinion on this issue is pretty clear: Move your Copyright to  
>>> OSGeo - all of it including trademarks, logos and designs. That is what  
>>> OSGeo is there for. Get it out of corporate reach, it is none of their  
>>> business (great analogy, hehe). 
>>> Is their any advantage of keeping the  Copyright under a private property?
>> Depends. There may be more trust in some private properties than others. 
>> So far as I'm aware, OGC is a private property, you you argue that putting
>> KML under OGC was a good thing.
>> OSGeo is also a private property. It is a foundation, managed by an elected
>> board -- but so are most companies. (OSgeo isn't even, so far as I know,
>> a registered nonprofit organization at this time.) What makes OSGeo a better
>> steward for code than organizations which have managed code for years --
>> or in the cases of some projects, decades?

Once again - I'm not a lawyer...

OSGeo is a non-profit by virtue of the way it was incorporated. The IRS ruling that's in progress is not to decide whether or not it's a non-profit. It's to decide whether it's a "public charity" or a "foundation", each being specific legal terms that affect the rules under which it operates. If the organization fails to secure an IRS ruling after a certain amount of time, I think it defaults to "foundation" unless its annual income is under $25,000.

But both forms are 501(c)(3), and in any case, it is bound to operate under the provisions of the certificate of incorporation and the bylaws.


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