Software Freedom Conservancy

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= " a not-for-profit organization that helps promote, improve, develop, and defend Free, Libre, and Open Source Software (FLOSS) projects".



"The Software Freedom Conservancy is an organization composed of Free and Open Source Software (FOSS) projects. As a fiscal sponsor for FOSS projects, the Conservancy provides member projects with free financial and administrative services, but does not involve itself with technological and artistic decisions.

By joining the Conservancy, member FOSS projects obtain the benefits of a formal legal structure while keeping themselves focused on software development. These benefits include, most notably, protection from personal liability for project developers. Another benefit of joining the Conservancy is that projects can use it to hold assets, which are managed by the Conservancy on behalf of and at the direction of the project. The Conservancy is a tax-exempt 501(c)(3) organization, so member projects can receive tax-deductible donations to the extent allowed by law."


June 2012:

'The Software Freedom Conservancy (SFC) -- a nonprofit project hosting the Samba and BusyBox projects -- has announced a new initiative to engage in enforcement of the Gnu General Public License and related free software licenses. The move arises following a controversy earlier in the year when it seemed that a former developer of BusyBox -- a command-line interface used in embedded devices -- was working on ToyBox, a non-GPL-licensed clone of the project. This concerned GPL enforcement activists because BusyBox is a popular entry point to wider GPL enforcement by the SFC on embedded devices.

The news brings together several SFC projects, including Samba, BusyBox, Evergreen, Inkscape, Mercurial, Sugar Labs, and Wine, all of which explicitly permit the conservancy to pursue violators of the GPL. SFC is also launching a new project to gather copyright holders in the Linux kernel who are keen to see legal pursuit of GPL violators. Called the GPL Compliance Project for Linux Developers, it brings together seven Linux kernel contributors, including the well-known Matthew Garrett." (


Incorporating the Freedom to Leave

"Freedom to Leave. – part of the core SFConservancy pitch is the idea that you may prefer to back out of a license or foundation structure. Freedom To Leave is literally written into the SFConservancy charter.

- All agreements between member projects and the Conservancy stipulate clearly that the member project can leave the Conservancy with a few months’ notice. Federal tax exemption law, though, states that projects must transfer their assets from the Conservancy in a way that is consistent with the Conservancy’s not-for-profit tax status — meaning the assets cannot be transferred to an individual or a for-profit entity. Generally, a project would either find another fiscal sponsor or form their own independent tax-exempt non-profit.

- We fully expect that some Conservancy projects will ultimately wish to form their own non-profit 501(c)(3) organizations; that’s why we design our agreements with projects to allow them to leave to another 501(c)(3) organization. Typically, projects join Conservancy because the project leaders don’t want the burdens of running a non-profit themselves. Often, as projects grow, leaders get interested in the non-profit management and organizational side of the activities and are then prepared to take on the additional work themselves." (