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Re: Donations

On Thu, Jun 15, 2006 at 07:27:08AM +0100, MJ Ray wrote:
> Wouter Verhelst <wouter@debian.org> wrote:
> > The DPL could 'unvet' the first one and then vet the second one. [...]
> Even if it was vetted and failed, it was still vetted, unless there's
> time travel.  I suggest that the vetting limit wouldn't make sense.

Okay, I have the feeling that there's an issue of me not being a native
English speaker here. What I meant with 'to vet' was 'to approve, to
allow'. If that's not the right meaning of that word, then please
disregard it.

> > 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. [...]
> So why not leave it to SPI, who pay a bookkeeper and have learnt
> from past mistakes, instead of requiring debian to duplicate the
> bookkeeping which any good charity will already be doing?  Then
> debian only needs to ask one organisation for the status and
> the job's done.
> > > 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. [...]
> Which countries can have no suitable organisations?

I don't know, but I don't want to gamble on it not being an issue.

> Could we at least require debian funds to be listed seperately
> on the accounts of any holding organisations?

I have no issue with setting requirements for money-holding
organizations; on the contrary. This would be a reasonable one.

It's just that I don't think it's necessarily a good idea to require one
specific statute which is known to be implemented with different legal
details in many countries.

> > > 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.
> AIUI, SPI will refuse to act illegally or to break its own
> resolutions, which acts as a simple minimal scrutiny.
> That is probably the same for any partner organisation,
> but the rules of the partner may limit their responses.

Yes, but that hasn't actually ever happened in practice. Sure, it would
make sense to have such regulations for money-holding organizations in
general; however, I don't see it as true to say "SPI has any say over
Debian money".

> > 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?
> The account listing would be a good step forwards, but I
> think requiring DD membership may restrict the types of
> organisation which could be used unnecessarily.  Approval
> should be more about whether the aims are compatible (including
> that commercial traders should not hold donations too) than
> whether DDs can join directly.
> > [...]
> > > > Cc sent to -vote, because if we're going to update the constitution,
> > > > this might be a good idea.
> > >=20
> > > 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. [...]
> International transfer costs can be minimised by using SPI's
> partner organisations.  There is no need to amend the
> constitution to do this.  Just find more partners.
> Debian is not a legal person.  It cannot have any bank
> accounts.

Well, no, not in a legal sense, no. But when I talk to you, I'm not
talking to a lawyer (I guess), so I don't need to talk in a legal sense.

In a legal sense, SPI has a bank account which holds some money, some of
which it spends on behalf of this bunch of people who write some
operating system. For all practical matters, that money is Debian's, and
it could be said that the bank account is partially Debian's.

Can we leave the details behind us, please?

> So, who would be the responsible person if not the SPI corporation?
> DDs?  The DPL alone?  Will this bar people who are subject to legal
> restrictions on money management from becoming DPL? (such as the EU
> and US "terrorism" bans on some people, the anti-money-laundering
> laws, or national laws against bankrupts and so on)

In a legal sense, the DPL has nothing to do with the money on those
accounts. Legally, it's still those individual organizations who handle
the money and are responsible for it.

They will, indeed, need to make sure that nothing illegal happens, and
that can only be done by refusing to do a transaction when doing so
would be illegal. Apart from that, there is nothing which really

> This whole change seems to introduce lots more questions, lots
> more bureaucracy

Yes, that seems to be the case; but if it's required, I don't see why
that should deter us.

> and solves no problem which couldn't be solved by reminding some DDs
> of the current situation, instead of retrospectively modifying the
> foundation documents.

I disagree.

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

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