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Re: Donations

On Sun, Jun 11, 2006 at 07:27:04AM +0100, MJ Ray wrote:
> Wouter Verhelst <wouter@debian.org>
> > Perhaps a formulation like 
> > 
> > 	Since Debian has no authority to hold money or property, any
> > 	monetary donations for the Debian Project must be made to an
> > 	organization that has been vetted by the DPL to be allowed to
> > 	handle such things in name of the Debian project, where no more
> > 	than one such organization shall be vetted per country.
> > 
> > 	Any property in hardware, trademarks, or in copyright will be
> > 	handled by SPI, which is our legal umbrella organization in the
> > 	U.S.
> > 
> > might work. This would avoid having to update the constitution every
> > time someone wants to create a new organization.
> What if the organisation fails the vetting or a vetted organisation
> collapses?  Can't vet a second in the same country.

The DPL could 'unvet' the first one and then vet the second one. How
this would work in practice would be something for the DPL to work out,
I guess. I also don't think this is something that will occur too often.

The point of the exercise is to avoid having so many organizations and
so many bank accounts that we would need three professional accountants
just to keep track. Perhaps I should have worded it as 'no more than one
such organization shall be active per country'; and it might also make
sense to include a statement that the DPL should strive to find the
right balance between not having to pay too much transaction costs, and
not having so many organizations that it is getting too difficult to
keep track. After all, you don't need such an organization in _every_
country; there are a number of countries that have treaties which make
monetary transactions between them cheap (e.g., the EU).

> Don't you want to restrict eligible organisations, such as
> requiring charitable-equivalent registration in their country?

I don't think that's a good idea, as laws about that status differ from
country to country; while it may be interesting in, e.g., the U.S. for
an organization that holds Debian money to be registered as a charitable
organization, the same is not necessarily true for all countries
worldwide. For example, it may be that the costs involved would be too
high for such an organization to be worth it, or that you need to have
some amount of yearly income by donations before you'd even be allowed
to do so). Or it may be that in some countries having an organization
for 'keeping money in trust for a body of software developers', or even
'developing software', is not considered a charitable purpose by local

> Or would it be fine to make Microsoft France the vetted one there?

Not really, but then I wouldn't expect the DPL to vet Microsoft France.

> Do you really want to transfer power over the money from DPL+SPI to
> just the DPL?  Seems like a big reduction in scrutiny to me.

Err, SPI has no say at all in how money is handled; it's the DPL who
says "yes, please pay this bill" and then SPI pays. That's it.

However, you do have a point. Perhaps we could define that any Debian
Developer may ask for an organization to produce an overview of their
recent transactions, and that it must allow (though not force) Debian
Developers worldwide to become part of its organizational structure.
Would that satisfy you?

> > Cc sent to -vote, because if we're going to update the constitution,
> > this might be a good idea.
> Please leave the constitution alone and fix those who are currently
> in breach of it over donations - don't break the constitution to
> match their bugs.

I don't think it's a bug for Debian to be interested in having bank
accounts in more than just the U.S.. It's quite expensive to send money
from one country to another; sending money off and on between the U.S.
and the rest of the world just because we don't want to have a bank
account in other countries than the U.S. is not really a good idea.
Especially not given the arcane banking system in the U.S. (I would
_never_ consider opening a personal bank account there).

I do agree that we should be careful in doing this, though, which is why
my initial mail wasn't a formal constitutional amendment proposal, but
rather an informal mail meant to test the waters.

Fun will now commence
  -- Seven Of Nine, "Ashes to Ashes", stardate 53679.4

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