Josh Berkus's platform on political activity, was: money handling

Anthony Towns aj at
Tue Jul 18 01:48:16 UTC 2006

On Mon, Jul 17, 2006 at 10:37:16AM -0700, Josh Berkus wrote:
> You, as well as a couple others, use the example of Software Patents as an 
> "obvious good" which nobody could argue with.  But things are not so 
> clear-cut.   For example, if one of our associated projects was recieving 
> the majority of its funding from IBM, having SPI spend significant funds 
> and publicity on opposing SW patents could cause that organization to 
> become defunded and even cease to exist.  

FWIW, Linux Australia receives a lot of support from IBM (it's been an
ongoing major sponsor of, and also actively participates
in topics of copyright and patent reform. As it happens, Rusty Russell
has been our key IP guy for a few years now, and is also an IBM employee.
Linux Australia also tries to support free software groups in Australia,
though at present we don't hold significant funds for anyone else in
the way that SPI does. So that's not an entirely fair example.

I don't think that sort of campaigning is really that difficult, but it
does mean that SPI has to have a separate identity to any organisations
it supports, rather than having them be considered "SPI projects" and
thus implied to follow where SPI leads.

To put it another way: if PostgreSQL were to think patents are good,
and SPI were to think patents were bad, but PostgreSQL is good; is
there any reason for PostgreSQL to stop using SPI for its finances,
just because they're arguing different sides of an issue in public?

OTOH, if that reaches the point where SPI starts exercising too
much control over PostgreSQL's funds -- eg, declining to pay patent
registration fees on behalf of some PostgreSQL contributors which
was going to be used as a revenue stream for further free software
development, because it conflicts with SPI's position on patents, rather
than its role as a 501(c)3 charitable organisation -- or otherwise starts
trying to change how the member organisation is run, that would be a
reason for PostgreSQL to move on from SPI, IMO. I hope that wouldn't

(I'm ignoring the stuff, because I don't think it's
something we want to see as a precedent)


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