As largely self-organizing groups, free software projects have always faced unique challenges when they decide to formally incorporate. The choice whether to form a nonprofit or a for-profit carries not only legal but community consequences. Recently, these choices have only become more complex. The IRS is closely scrutinizing the applications of new free software nonprofits applying for tax exemption, and may apply more exclusive criteria to new applications than it has in the past. Recognizing a need, some established nonprofits have begun sponsoring the activity of smaller, unincorporated projects. And several U.S. states have adopted laws authorizing new "hybrid" corporate forms, "benefit corporations" organized for profit but dedicated to the public benefit. This presentation will discuss the changing corporate landscape of free software and discuss how projects should approach these issues when they consider incorporation.
3rd–5th April 2012