Charters, manifestos, and SPI's purpose, and forum-widening

Bruce Perens bruce at
Mon May 14 17:24:21 UTC 2007

I researched copyright/patent liability insurance for a commercial 
customer a while back. It can be had for 1.5 to 2.5 percent of the 
insured amount per year. If you want $1 Million coverage you will be 
paying $15,000 to $25,000 per year.

But the member is not the insured party. The corporation is. I don't 
think it works for the corporation to indemnify a member the way this 
insurance might have helped a company indemnify a customer. This brings 
us back to the same point. If we can establish rules by which the 
developer is working on behalf of the corporation, they can:

1. Not have their personal assets at stake. This can easily be over 
USD$1M if you own a home, so it's a big deal. Younger folks will have 
less at risk, but I'd assume that as a group we're aging.

2. Possibly take advantage of Volunteer Protection Acts.

However, SPI is not necessarily the best organization to implement this, 
now, because it holds its own assets.

The biggest problem in making this happen is that the membership must to 
some degree work at the direction of the corporation, and that direction 
would include that the members not deliberately put the corporation at 
risk by doing stupid stuff like knowledgable violations of someone 
else's copyright, installing stuff that would get Debian sued into the 
distribution like obscentity, etc.. The last time I tried, I had 
difficulty selling this to the DDs.

I think the best structure in which to do this today would be a separate 
purpose-built corporation that DDs (and other project developers) could 
opt into. The folks who could not live with the rules would be able to 
stay out.



Josh Berkus wrote:
> Bruce,
>> The founders are myself and Tim Sailer. Our specific goal at the time
>> was to protect Debian developers from personal liability by giving them
>> a corporate shield. This purpose was not achieved, but IMO is more
>> important today than it was in 1998. 
> Well, Debian certainly has the funds to insure the developers, provided that 
> they could find an insurance provider.  Just a suggestion.

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