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    I can’t find anything that the SFLC has published about this, other than the timing on a blog post entitled A New Era for Free Software Non-Profits, wherein Moglen details changes in the IRS 501(c)3 organization determination process. Apparently, when the IRS was using the same overstepping-its-bounds process to review FOSS project Form 1023 submissions – the one used to file for a 501(c)3 – as it was Tea Party and other politically-right organizations. Projects trying to form their own non-profit entities were getting rejected amid very acerbic questioning. The SFLC seems to then have steered rejected clients towards the SFC and other, similar organizations. Then, some IRS directors got fired amid that scandal and apparently their replacements put in new processes that also made it a lot easier for FOSS project non-profits to get positive determination outcomes.

    One paragraph at the end of that blog post is particularly relevant:

    This arrangement is a clear advantage over the compromises between tax-deductibility and true organizational independence that we had to strike in the era of “condominiums” and “conservancies.” Such organizations will continue to serve good purposes for the software projects whose special conditions require them. But from now on, for the foreseeable future, every free software project that wants to govern itself in a secure, independent, tax-deductible federal charity can do so, while working with other organizations to get the asset management, fiscal administration, tax filing and regulatory compliance services that it needs from fiduciaries who are legally required to put its interests first.

    I speculate that the SFLC may believe that the SFC is no longer good for business and wants to distance itself from its spawn for business reasons. Non-profits are still businesses.

    Why do I think these events are related? The blog post was published on September 21, 2017. According to the USPTO case file, the cancellation petition was filed September 22, 2017. The post linked in this thread leads to SFC’s response.

    It seems very, very strange that the SFLC wouldn’t try to resolve the process first without involving the USPTO. I think there are details to which we the public are not yet privy.

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      The SFLC has responded.


      Some of the wording makes me feel that this is a continuation of Moglen’s displeasure with the SFC suing VMWare. He wants to be friends with the Linux Foundation, the Foundation want to be friends with VMWare, who are a sponsor.

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        Ah, excellent. Bruce Perens captures the whole thing succinctly, yet with more details than I remembered or even heard about.


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          The Software Freedom Conservancy generally recommends that if you need a short form for their name, you say “Conservancy” and not “SFC” since the latter is too easy to confuse with a great many other orgs.

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            In this context, I think most people can separate SFC, SFLC and unrelated orgs with similar names. Or I’m just rationalizing being lazy. :-)

            But yeah, that sounds like good advice.

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            That’s a frustrating response, basically saying, ~“We tried to talk to them about this but they refused to engage for 2.5 years.” I wonder what the Conservancy’s riposte will be.

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              Predictably it was “[no they didn’t]”. Apparently (according to Conservancy) Law Center approached them several times to discuss things that Conservancy thought was moot, so didn’t meet, but the trademark thing wasn’t explicitly mentioned.

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                Communication is hard.

                And here we are.

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            Bizarre is an entirely appropriate word. Moglen has lost it.

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              colindean’s comment is clearly more informed than mine…

              But I’ll go ahead and say what I was thinking before I read it: this looks to me like the SFLC hired some consultant to defend/expand their brand… Hm, but it was filed by an actual SFLC employee.

              Ah, this David Byrnes person just started there in April. https://web.archive.org/web/20170414225415/https://www.softwarefreedom.org/about/team/ vs https://web.archive.org/web/20170403100639/https://www.softwarefreedom.org/about/team/