Archive of UserLand's first discussion group, started October 5, 1998.

Re: The FSF is predatory and is not a charity

Author:Seth Gordon
Posted:8/28/2000; 7:31:11 AM
Topic:Next survey: Are you an open source developer?
Msg #:20385 (In response to 20227)
Prev/Next:20384 / 20386

The FSF is not a charity. One of the fundamental requirements for a charity (and one of the criteria that the IRS uses to determine if an organization is a charity) is that it target its benefits at those in need.
I have IRS Publication 526, Charitable Contributions: Organizations That Qualify To Receive Deductible Contributions in another browser window, and it doesn't mention any requirement that a charity "target its benefits at those in need".
It also makes most of its income from items unrelated to its claimed "charitable" activities (T-shirts, etc.)
It's common for charitable organizations to sell stuff to raise funds. My synagogue, for example, is having a dinner next month to honor some of its members, and charging admission to the dinner; the profits from the dinner benefit the synagogue. (The part of the ticket price that equals the market value of the dinner is not tax-deductible.) This is just like the FSF selling T-shirts to support its software development activities.
Presumably, some of programmers [who contributed code to GCC] would not have done so without the "poison pill" of the GPL protecting their selfish interests -- they considered the availability of derivative works to be their compensation for their contributions.

In other words, they hoped to confiscate the work of others.

They hoped that in exchange for offering their source to other developers, other developers would offer the source of derivative works to them. If a court retroactively steps in and says that arrangement is invalid, then the court is confiscating the intellectual property that used to belong to the GCC developers. How will those developers be compensated, if not by access to other developers' derivative works?

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