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Re: Software Freedom Conservancy needs our cash

(re-sent without attachment)

On 01/12/15 15:36, Stefano Zacchiroli wrote:
> On Tue, Dec 01, 2015 at 03:17:33PM +0100, Raphael Hertzog wrote:
>> Let's give them a part of our money for the service they do us by
>> enforcing the GPL for Debian developers.
> We already pay for those services. There is a forfait amount of money
> that Debian pays to Conservancy per year (1000 USD, IIRC), which
> corresponds to a forfait amount of lawyer hours that Conservancy give to
> Debian per year. If any enforcement (or other legal) action will require
> more than those hours, Conservancy will bill Debian for the extra time.
> If we want to donate to Conservancy, it should be on a different basis
> than paying for the services we get from them, because those are
> regulated on a contractual basis.

As mentioned elsewhere, there is more than one way to skin a cat

Many companies purchase legal insurance to cover contract disputes, bad
debts, employee disputes and not surprisingly, copyright disputes.  I
had a brief look around at Swiss insurers and the first one I found is
offering 150,000 CHF sum insured for copyright law (see policy[1] PDF,
page 11, point 7).  On page 3 it suggests this sum insured is per-case,
not per-year.  The insurer also takes care of other things, for example,
if a case is lost and the other party claims their legal costs, the
developer won't be bankrupted as the insurance would pay for that too. I
wrote to Conservancy and asked if they have similar protection in place
and I haven't yet received a reply.  The insurer also provides an advice
helpline (see page 8).

I sent the insurer an email specifically asking if they would have
covered the VMware lawsuit.

So while people are free to give money to Conservancy and I'm sure they
are doing great work, it is not the only option and maybe we even need
to consider a combination of different options to have the maximum
probability of success in the long term.

One solution that comes to mind is for debian.ch (which is incorporated
as an association under Swiss law) to apply for an insurance policy such
as this one and for developers who like this idea to grant or assign
their copyright to debian.ch.

Another option is for Conservancy to work with some insurance companies
like this rather than trying to fund the legal costs from donations.
Then the money that people do donate to Conservancy could be used for
other purposes.

Yet another solution may be for Debian or Conservancy to negotiate with
an insurance company to get insurance policies designed for free
software developers.  Then developers can buy the insurance personally.

One limitation of legal insurance is the waiting period (90 days from
policy commencement).  If anybody discovers and publicizes another abuse
of copyright / GPL before the insurance has been purchased and the 90
days passed, the insurer may not accept the case.

1. http://paste.debian.net/plain/340540

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