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Re: Debian UK (was Re: What the DFSG really says about trademarks)

On Fri, Sep 02, 2005 at 06:38:38PM +0100, MJ Ray wrote:

> > and it does not engage in any lucrative activities of
> > which the society itself is a benefactor, seeing that revenue from CD
> > sales is donated to Debian. 

> DUS spends on itself, which is necessary in its current setup.
> >From the last three treasurer's reports:

> DUS expenses:
>   Items for sale     1718.00
>   Lunch at show        22.82
>   Photocopying          0.73

> Debian expenses:
>   DPL expenses        230.37
>   buildd hardware     135.14

Ok.  I certainly wouldn't call "items for sale" a case of "spending on
itself", though; and at least in the US, I suspect these expenses might
be accounted for in a somewhat different fashion than the breakdown
given above.  (But perhaps someone with more accounting experience than
I could check me on that.)

In any case, we evidently do at least have some 23 GBP in
non-Debian-approved expenditures over the course of three months.  That
doesn't seem like an unreasonable amount of overhead, though I guess
some may object that "lunch at show" is not an appropriate *kind* of
expenditure.  I can't tell, myself; I don't have any strong feelings
about what the guidelines should be that govern such things.

> > So the society is certainly a
> > /corporation/, but if it's a business it's a piss-poor one.

> A corporation is a legal person which can own stuff itself and
> so on. DUS is an unincorporated association and not a corporation.

Ah, so it's an unincorporated society at that.  Yes, I can certainly
understand the concerns about liability, then.

> > (Likewise,
> > SPI is a corporation, but not a business; and from what I understand of
> > such things, SPI could also not be considered a charity under UK law.)

> Why not, just out of interest? It seems to act for the benefit
> of the community and I didn't notice any obvious exclusion.

Well, looking through <http://www.charity-commision.gov.uk/>, I can't
actually find anything that spells out how the UK decides whether a
stated object is charitable, but I also definitely don't see anything in
their example objects that would cover SPI's charter.  Education is one
of SPI's stated objectives, yes, but advocacy is also, and it's my
impression that advocacy is off-limits for UK charities.

> > > In general, I think a group now should be called debian only if:
> > >   1. it's a debian subproject, OR
> > >   2. it's a local charity and got consensus BEFORE trading, OR
> > >   3. it's outside the scope of trademark infringement,
> > > because these things have big potential to reflect on debian.
> > > 1 offers debian some influence, 2 should ensure minimal "good
> > > governance" and debian influence and 3 we can't do much about.

> > Why should *charities* get special consideration, anyway?  Being a
> > charity doesn't automatically make them aligned with Debian's goals.

> Indeed, which is why debian should reach consensus before they
> trade. I think charities should get some special consideration
> because law enforces some level of openness and honour not
> required of other organisations.

Well, charities (as a category legally distinct from "non-profits")
don't exist in my jurisdiction, so I'm rather disinclined to use that as
a standard.  AFAICT, such a standard would actually equate to "the
British government says it's a charity", which doesn't do anyone in
other countries a bit of good.  If there are specific,
jurisdiction-independent features of UK charities which you consider
important, perhaps we should be discussing those instead.

> > I think any local org using the Debian name should be accountable to the
> > DPL for the use of that name, if that's what you mean by being a "Debian
> > subproject"; but then, a simple revocable trademark license seems to
> > wholly achieve that.

> By debian subproject, I mean one of the things that follows the
> general ideas of:
> 1. announcement and open discussion before its creation;
> 2. voluntary participation of debian developers;
> 3. support from some other key debian groups; and
> 4. accountable to the wider project;
> which are mostly outlined in the draft subproject howto.


Steve Langasek                   Give me a lever long enough and a Free OS
Debian Developer                   to set it on, and I can move the world.
vorlon@debian.org                                   http://www.debian.org/

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