Accepting Tax-deductible Donations
FSSN is a recognized 501(c)(3) tax-exempt public charity. As a public charity FSSN can accept tax-deductible donations to support the goals of collaborating projects. Donors to FSSN may designate which collaborating projects the donation is intended to support. FSSN will then work with the collaborating project to use the donated funds in support of the project's mission. Whether a project receives a donation of a few dollars or tens of thousands of dollars, directing the funds to FSSN ensures responsible usage of funds for the benefit of the project and not any individual. It also avoids confusion about ownership of the funds.
The most common uses include paying for project members to travel to conferences, organizing conferences, paying for hosting fees, maintaining DNS registrations, purchasing of hardware, and registering and maintaining trademark registrations. All projects have unique needs and FSSN works closely with each project to ensure the funds are used to support the project's mission and only for furtherance of its charitable purpose.
FSSN can hold any assets on behalf of the Projects including DNS names, trademarks, copyrights, servers or testing hardware, or any other physical equipment. Projects often want continuity in the ownership of assets regardless of personnel changes within the project. While it is common for projects to initially register a DNS in a single person's name, managing the DNS registration over time can become an issue if that person stops actively contributing to a project. FSSN can hold assets on behalf of projects ensuring that the assets are used only for a charitable purpose and consistent with the project's goals.
Contracts Negotiation and Execution
FSSN can enter into contracts on behalf of the projects. Many projects work closely with commercial entities such as hardware or software companies. The personnel at FSSN have experience negotiating with commercial entities on behalf of FOSS developers. FSSN is experienced with negotiating agreements that protect not just individual developer's interests, but also the project's and the FOSS community's interests. FSSN can also enter into agreements on behalf of projects. This often eliminates the need for individual project members to negotiate individually with companies, and preventing the need to renegotiate agreements each time a new contributor joins a project.
Software Freedom Law Center provides free legal assistance and representation to all of FSSN's collaborating projects. The attorneys at SFLC have experience representing the most well known FOSS projects (and not so well known projects). SFLC can provide collaborating projects with assistance in legal matters ranging from common questions on licensing compliance to complex negotiations with multinational corporations. Please see SFLC Services for further details.
While most FOSS projects do not need technical assistance when it comes to running their own infrastructure, FSSN has experienced staff that can provide technical assistance when projects do not have the resources to do so themselves. Through special agreements with collaborating projects, FSSN can provide mailing list hosting, DNS hosting, or other common infrastructure services.
Fund Raising Assistance
FSSN collaborates with projects to raise funds for Project Activities and uses the funds in consultation with the Project for the furtherance of software freedom.
License Enforcement and Resolution
One of the most common reasons FOSS projects seek legal representation is to resolve violations of FOSS licenses.FSSN's relationship with the Software Freedom Law Center gives collaborating projects access to the most experienced attorney's in the area of FOSS community enforcement. SFLC defends the integrity of FOSS licenses against both adverse judicial interpretation and legislative interference. SFLC also assists the general FOSS community in resolution of disputes relating to the use and development of FOSS. With the help of SFLC, FSSN strives to use licensing violations as opportunities to not just resolve the compliance issues, but also strengthen the collaborative FOSS ecosystem.
Officiating project elections
All FOSS projects are organized in a different manner, even if that organizational structure is unspoken. FSSN can act as a impartial third-party to help administer the election process to choose project leadership roles in accordance with the project's own rules. No matter the method from simple email balloting, on-line polls, first-past-the-post elections, or Condorcet voting systems, FSSN staff can act as a third party neutral in administering your election system.