GNU GPL and European law

Alex Hudson home at
Wed Nov 29 20:04:57 UTC 2000

> I think you can sure, that no one of the starting group thought of
> the activities to the menber countries of the EU. An different thing is,
> check out the legal conditions first in that "area", because in the future
> they might give some sort of orientation to the other countries:

I think, in any case, it's not something to be too worried about
(boundaries, that is). Let's say, for example, that to make things nice and
easy from a legal point of view we limit ourselves only to the countries of
the EU (please note: I'm not advocating that at all, it's just hypothetical
:)). Does that stop us from doing good work in the neighbouring countries
also? Not really.. for example, we can still distribute information, help
out groups on the ground, give advice, etc. Given any boundary, would that
stop us from going (for example) to a computer show in America to spread
awareness of FSFE? No, not really. The real question of boundary is
something to do with 'areas of responsibility' in a way: we're trying to
make sure as much of the world has a FSF of some sort as possible ;)) Well,
the US is already taken care of. And although, as FSFE, our 'area of
responsibility' might be the union of the EU and geographical Europe, even
that doesn't stop us helping other countries/areas if needs be. If a group
in country A (A not being in Europe, as we define it) asks for our help, for
example, then maybe the question should be, "Are we the FSF in best position
to help?"

> To all the others in the list - and especially Georg:
> Wouldn't be the organizational form of an association like Amnesty
> iInternational a good example for the FSF-Europe? The legal form of a
> "foundation" in the strict sense (as far as I know about it in Germany)
> not be the best solution, I think. Some sort of "eingetragener Verein"
> ("registered association") could be better.

I think the idea would be to draw up "what the FSFE is", and then in each
country get as close to that ideal as possible. For example, in the UK we
have Registered Charities, for example, which incur tax breaks, among other
things, and aren't limited to "good causes" in the traditional sense
(helping the homeless, elderly, etc.) - they can be set up by anyone for a
non-profit interest, pretty much. So, in the UK, a Registered Charity might
be the best solution. In other countries, it could be that setting up a
private company is the best answer - we want to be able to do the maximum
amount of good possible, and if in one country being a private company means
you enjoy tax breaks, or other such incentives, then maybe that is the
answer. But, it would definitely help to have some idea of what we are
aiming at. For example, we should be able to say "FSFE will be non profit
making", rather than saying "FSFE should be set up as [structure X]". The
end, and the means to the end, should be separate ;))



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