[Local-chapters] [Osmf-talk] chapter membership application: lower limit (20)

Iván Sánchez Ortega ivan at sanchezortega.es
Tue Sep 8 01:00:40 BST 2009

El Lunes, 7 de Septiembre de 2009, ivom escribió:
> Hi,
> I am preparing the creation of a belgian non-profit legal entity to
> represent OSM in Belgium. [...] I have a question about the kind 
> of 'members' [...]
> Do these members (20) have to posses of full rights in this organisation;
> like being able to decide on direction, choosing board member, changing
> bylaws, allowing/rejecting member, access to financial documents?

The idea is that the legal entity must be democratically runned. Membership 
should be open, members should be able to elect a board, members should have 
a voice in meetings.

With regards to the financial documents... at least in my country (Spain) it 
is legally required to let the members have a copy of the financial 

> Or is it ok to have extra members added to the sum of 'some full 
> rights'-members, that pay a yearly fee and have limited or 'minimal' (as 
> described in the bylaws) rights?

Ultimately, it the OSMF local chapters working group will decide if that is OK 
(I'm not a group of the WG - I'm just trying to set up a spanish chapter). 

But, personally, I don't like the idea of having two types of members with 
different attributions. Either you have your full rights inside the legal 
entity, or you don't.

> Also, where does the figure of 20 people come from? I see it as a rather
> arbitrary figure for now. I do accept the 'stability'-argument, however.

It *is* arbitrary. Ultimately, it will be the activity of the chapter (or lack 
of) which will tell the OSMF if the chapter runs smoothly or not. 

> I guess the local laws of existing non-profits in other countries, about
> which I am not familiar with describe the membership rules differently.
> Please exchange.

Here in spain we've set up an "association" (UK: "voluntary association"). It 
is a lesser form of juridical person used by lots of small-ish non-profits 
here. (In the *very* unlikely event that the chapter grows tremendously, out 
of the established fiscal bounds for assocs., we might be required to disband 
the "association" and form a "foundation")

Hint: see what kind of legal entity do non-profits in your country use. 
Anything from computer clubs to the local greenpeace treehuggers must be 
organised as some kind of legal entity in your jurisdiction.

Highlights of the spanish association law (i.e. legal requirements to set up 
an assoc.) include:

* Associations can not be ruled by secret laws - the bylaws of the association 
have to be in the public records (along with lots of other paperwork) in 
order to be legal.
* Must be non-for-profit.
* Membership must be open for any person (exceptions for children under 14 
years and people in jail).
* Three people as bare minimum.
* The name cannot contain a trademark --> you may have to ask the OSM for a 
letter allowing you to use "OpenStreetMap" in the name of the legal entity
* There must be a board, only members of the assoc. can be in it
* At least one meeting per year
* Any member has to be able to take part in the activities of the assoc. and 
vote for the assoc. board. (i.e. no discrimination between members)
* Members must work towards completion of the assoc. goals, must pay the fees 
(if there are any), and must be able to leave whenever they want.

Also keep in mind that the spanish chapter will start with 9 people - we think 
it's better to hold any new memberships until all the details of the OSMF 
federation agreement about membership are cleared out to prevent any 
problems. The OSMF is aware that the paperwork for setting up a legal entity 
takes time.

About the 20 people limit... if you have 19, and you're able to get a bit of 
funding to set up a couple of mapping parties per year, I don't think the 
OSMF will be evil enough to disband the chapter. Really, don't worry about it 
and focus on getting local stuff done.

P.D.: local chapters stuff should go into the chapters mailing list, so I'm 
CCing there.

Iván Sánchez Ortega <ivan at sanchezortega.es>

MSN:i_eat_s_p_a_m_for_breakfast at hotmail.com
Jabber:ivansanchez at jabber.org ; ivansanchez at kdetalk.net
IRC: ivansanchez @ OFTC & freenode

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