Foundation FAQ

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Overte Foundation FAQ

Why are we setting up a foundation?

The immediate reason for setting up a foundation is to put OpenSimulator on a formal basis with regards to code contribution and subsequent redistribution.

The foundation's first task will be to create a Contributor's License Agreement for the OpenSimulator project.

Once this is established, we plan to remove the contribution restrictions that are currently in place, such as the rule that prevents contributions from developers who have looked at the viewer codebase within the past 6 months.

We are also looking to establish the Overte Foundation as a 501c(3) entity. This will allow tax-free donations by US residents. In the long term, the foundation could also act as an umbrella for other open source virtual environment projects. In fact, this is why we're calling it the "Overte Foundation" rather than the "OpenSimulator Foundation".

What form will the Contributor's License Agreement take?

This has yet to be fully hashed out. However, the intention is to create an agreement where the contributor grants a copyright license to the foundation and to those who receive the code. The copyright itself will remain with the original contributor.

The foundation will become the legal distributor of the source code. If any dispute arises then this can be handled by the foundation.

But isn’t OpenSimulator already distributed under the BSD license?

Absolutely and there are no plans to change this. However, the BSD license does not declare that the contributor has the necessary rights over the code to contribute it in the first place and it doesn’t explicitly give redistribution rights to another entity.

There’s a lot of debate over contribution agreements - some say they are a very good idea whilst others say that they aren’t necessary. We’ve decided to go down the contribution agreement route partly because of the particular virtual environment ecosystem that OpenSimulator inhabits and partly because establishing a foundation creates an opportunity to help OpenSimulator and the wider open-source virtual-environment/virtual-world ecosystem to grow in the long term.

Do other open-source projects do this?

There are many open-source projects that have both foundations and contributor’s agreements. Examples include the Apache Software Foundation, Django, Python and Linden Lab.

Are you planning to ask for donations?

We do plan to ask for donations in the future but at the moment we’re actually still in the process of setting things up. This means that we don’t yet have a bank account that could receive donations in the foundation’s name.

It probably would be possible to funnel donations through an individual but we felt that it would be better to wait until the foundation itself can receive them.

When we do ask for donations, they will go in the short term towards the expenses associated with setting up and maintaining a non-profit corporation, as well as gaining 501c(3) status and establishing the Contributor's Agreement. All donations of any amount will be very gratefully received.

In the longer term, donations will go towards supporting and promoting the OpenSimulator project. They may also go towards other activities or other member open-source projects, though if and when this happens the expansion of focus will be made very clear.

Will the foundation control OpenSimulator development itself?

It will not. Direct control of OpenSimulator development will remain with the OpenSimulator core developers, defined as those people who have commit rights to the OpenSimulator software code repository. Developers are offered commit rights when they make significant contributions to the OpenSimulator project over a period of time and with the approval of the existing core developers. OpenSimulator development is also pushed forward by contributed patches and through testing and use of OpenSimulator by the entire community.

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