NPO Developers License

Don Cameron donc at
Thu Apr 28 09:59:42 UTC 2005

Thanks to everyone for the very informative feedback. Unfortunately I'm not
familiar with the charitable eligibility and taxation requirements of the
USA, however I take the point that Apache and other US-based NPO's can and
do operate a charitable constitution within this framework without problem.

Our hope (and my reason for asking these questions), is to create software
that will be used by NPO's, improved and redistributed to and by other NPO's
in various countries of the world. The tax laws of many country's place
prohibitions on NPO's and include: Forbidding the resale of donated
commercial products within a certain span of time; Forbidding the receipt of
donated commercial products over a certain value without lodgment of a
taxation declaration and receipt of such to the donor; Providing warranty as
to the purpose of any commercial donation in compliance with the
Constitutional Mission; Forbidding the solicitation or promotion of products
for sale (fundraising) without declaration and the prior approval of
Government. As far as I know these are not regulations that impact on
commercial businesses.

Such issues or outcomes may not result from our efforts, however a potential
does exist for exploitation or commercialization outside our scope if the
software can be resold to, or by an NPO. Such a result could have a chain
reaction effect if a commercial entity were to change the software,
subsequently donate it to an NPO writing-off the time involved in
re-development as a tax deduction. The NPO would be required to lodge the
dollar value of the donation and warrant the purpose to which the software
would be used. This is commonly an expensive and time consuming process.

These are outcomes we do not want, and in truth complexities we do not need.
I believe these issues would be negated if the software license (or an
overriding distribution license), prevents commercial resale. This is also
in accord with the ethos of a donation made by a charitable institution as
governed by common constitutions. 

Having clarified we cannot stipulate a requirement for free distribution
under an Open Source license, my intent is to investigate other licensing
options and perhaps see if we can use an Open Source license in conjunction
with an overriding distribution license preventing resale.

Once again thank you for the tremendous feedback.  


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