[Osmf-talk] Draft New Corporate Membership Tiers

Frederik Ramm frederik at remote.org
Fri Apr 29 06:58:23 UTC 2016


On 04/29/2016 07:00 AM, Simon Poole wrote:
> [...] in other words the single point of contact has been there as
> long as it has been legally possible to talk with one voice. The
> discussion now is about removing that (for the plebs)

This is perhaps a good point to remind everyone that the OSMF board does
not intend to remove or diminish LWG. This is a straw man, and whoever
put that up either suffered from a misunderstanding or from paranoia.

Let's try to turn this into a constructive discussion:

1. OSMF/LWG have, in the past, shied away from giving too concrete legal
advice. If someone came to us with a complicated "can I do this and
that" question, we might have given them some hints but we always ended
with "ultimately, we're not lawyers, and even if we were, we wouldn't be
YOUR lawyers, so go and ask a lawyer before you proceed".

2. Businesses are unhappy about this; they would much rather have us
give them a yes-or-no answer which they could then rely on.

3. We want to attract more businesses as corporate members so that our
future is secured financially.

Now we can't really change #1; we can't vet a business model - not least
because even if we have a certain interpretation of our own license, it
might well be wrong! So we'll still keep saying to people "ultimately,
ask a lawyer".

But what we *can* do is at least make it easier for the legal department
of a business to assess the situation - make it easier for them to "ask
a lawyer". It is still them who have to read and interpret the license
and draw the right conclusions from it, but we can offer that *we* pay a
lawyer to whom we explain the license and how we interpret it, and that
lawyer can then talk to the business' legal department and explain
things to them in words and terms that they can easily work with.

This is the "value add" that we essentially sell to corporate members:
We retain a lawyer as a go-between between our own LWG and the legal
department of whoever needs to interpret our license.

They don't get a different license because of that, or more committment
from the OSMF, and they don't get their business model vetted. But they
get the warm fuzzy feeling that they have someone on our side who speaks
their language. They don't buy a privilege; they buy a translation
service that might help avoid misunderstandings between what our normal
project members in LWG say and their legal department. -- That doesn't
make everyone else "the plebs", especially as someone without their own
legal department will most likely prefer to talk to LWG than to talk to
our lawyer ;)

Now speaking of misunderstandings, we (board) carry some responsibility
for the "OMG board wants to scrap LWG" misunderstanding. The corporate
membership tiers concept refers to a few things that aren't clearly
specified and don't exist yet - e.g. the "business conference", the
"general counsel", etc., and without further explanation it might sound
like we have a drawer full of plans about what these things will be (we
just don't tell you, har har har). Truth is, this whole thing is a draft
that we're sharing early and we have *not* worked out the details yet.
We heard that business users would like a business conference - so we
pencilled one in. We heard that business users would like to be able to
talk to a lawyer - so we added something to the draft. These things are
certainly not impossible to do once the money is there to fund them. Who
exactly briefs that lawyer and how, we haven't even designed.

Is it therefore careless to share such a draft early? Would you rather
have us flesh out everything in detail and share when we have lined up a
lawyer to contract and we're ready to take a vote?


Frederik Ramm  ##  eMail frederik at remote.org  ##  N49°00'09" E008°23'33"

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