1998-11-16.iwj.1: Framework for Associated Projects

November 16th, 1998

This resolution is superseded by resolution 2004-08-10.iwj.1

1. Introduction

Software in the Public Interest, Inc. ('SPI') is an umbrella organization which provides legal and formal services, including the ability to manage legal property, to various projects and organizations ('Associated Projects', or simply 'Projects') which form part of the wider community working on free software and related activities ('the Community').

SPI takes the view that the political and technical decision making for a Project is a matter for the people who participate in it. Accordingly, SPI does not normally control or manage Projects.

2. Property

One of SPI's main functions is to receive and hold property, including money, hardware, intellectual property and other assets, which are intended for the benefit of free software or related activities and may be earmarked for a particular Project.

Such assets are held in trust by SPI. They will be used and managed according to agreement(s) between SPI and the relevant Project, for the benefit of the Community. The basis of the trust is this Framework, SPI's Position and Promises on Intellectual Property, and those agreement(s).

(i) Money

SPI will, when requested by a Project, accept money to be held in trust for purposes related to that Project. Such money will be spent according to the instructions of (and SPI's agreement with) the Project, provided that these instructions are consistent with SPI's goals and legal obligations.

(ii) Intellectual Property

SPI can on request hold intellectual property in trust for purposes relating to a Project. Such IPR will be managed according to the instructions of (and SPI's agreement with) the Project, provided that these instructions are consistent with SPI's Position and Promises about Intellectual Property and SPI's goals and legal obligations.

(iii) Other Property

If SPI accepts other property in trust for purposes relating to a Project, the property will be managed according to SPI's agreement with the Project, provided that this is for the benefit of that Project and the Community and consistent with SPI's goals, policies, promises and legal obligations.

3. Legal advice and representation

SPI and its lawyers may make their services available to Projects, if it is in SPI's view that this is in the best interests of the Community and there are no conflicts of interest involved.

4. Project Management

Each Project has its own formal or informal internal structure and procedures. SPI will not interfere in the internal decision making of Projects, unless this is requested by the Project or its rules and procedures.

If a Project has rules and procedures about its relationship with SPI then SPI will honour them (for example by implementing decisions about property held for that Project if and only if they are made according to those rules and procedures) provided that they are consistent with its agreement with SPI and with SPI's goals, policies and legal obligations.

If a Project's internal organization or procedures are unclear or disputed, SPI will deal with the situation as fairly as possible; if possible SPI will act according to the decisions or rough consensus of the Project's participants or in case of doubt that of the whole Community.

5. Competition and Disputes

It is SPI's view that free software and the Community are enhanced by friendly internal competition. SPI therefore does not usually have a conflict of interest when holding assets on behalf of two different but competing Projects.

If Projects are in dispute with each other about property held by SPI in trust for one or both of them, SPI will not usually dispose of the property or use it (for example, by taking enforcement action about IPR) except by common consent of the Projects involved. SPI will deal with the situation fairly, just as if it were a dispute within a single Project (see above).

If no resolution can be found in a dispute about property held for one or more Projects, and it is the rough consensus of the Community that some particular action needs to be taken before resolution is likely, and it would be fair, reasonable, legal, and consistent with SPI's policies to do so, then SPI will take that action.

In any case, SPI may if agreed by disputing Projects act as an mediator or arbitrator.