[Incubator] OSGeo funding for legal support

Frank Warmerdam warmerdam at pobox.com
Fri Sep 14 23:19:05 EDT 2007

Cameron Shorter wrote:
> OSGeo,
> I'm very concerned about the breakdown of the Geotools incubation 
> process and especially about the resigning of 2 of OSGeo's highly 
> movitated, highly respected, evangelists.
> This is a critical issue that has the potential to tarnish the 
> reputation of and effectiveness of OSGeo.
> We need to get to the bottom of this and fix it.
> My initial chat with Jody suggests that Geotools has been frustrated by 
> excessively slow legal support from OSGeo. This mirrors my experience 
> with Mapbuilder where most of my legal questions were left unanswered by 
> the legal profession.
> I see legal support as one of the major responsibilities of OSGeo as it:
> 1. Underpins the quality control of OSGeo packages.
> 2. Is a service unavailable to many Open Source projects.
> It seems OSGeo should be funding reliable legal support.


Autodesk has provided access to Heather Meeker as well as Autodesk
inhouse council and we have availed ourselves of their advice from
time to time.  But frankly, *I* was the one to drag my feet in this
regard.  I feel like we are working with a borrowed resource (legal
advice) and that we have to use it frugally or risk exhausting it on
what I might deem to be frivolous questions.  For instance, questions
that have been previously answered, that are common sense from previous
advice or that just aren't necessary.

I resigned as GeoTools mentor, and authorized Chris to forward
GeoTools requests to legal counsel because I came to the conclusion
that my rationing and general interference was more of a problem
than it was a solution.

Perhaps this committee needs to discuss whether my rationing of
legal advice for other projects and other questions is also seriously
impeding progress on other issues.

I will say that legal advice is expensive, and OSGeo does not have
deep pockets.  It is very easy to burn through money.  If we were
to make extensive use of Heathers advice, we would eventually find we
have worn out our welcome.  I still think some rationing of legal
expense (direct or indirect) is needed, just as we do for other
foundation expenses.  But it may be that I have drawn the line at
the wrong point.

So, if Jody stepped aside as GeoTools rep over lack of legal support,
then it was my fault.  My stepping aside is an effort to resolve the
problem ... not an example of the same frustration over again.

I hope this provides some clarification.

Best regards,
I set the clouds in motion - turn up   | Frank Warmerdam, warmerdam at pobox.com
light and sound - activate the windows | http://pobox.com/~warmerdam
and watch the world go round - Rush    | President OSGeo, http://osgeo.org

More information about the Incubator mailing list