Software Freedom Law Center Launches Conservancy

Software Freedom Conservancy offers nonprofit umbrella protections to free and open source projects

April 3, 2006

The Software Freedom Law Center (SFLC), provider of pro-bono legal services to protect and advance Free and Open Source Software (FOSS), today announced it has established the Software Freedom Conservancy to provide free financial and administrative services for a collection of FOSS projects through a single entity.

“The mission of the Conservancy is to provide free and open source software developers with all of the benefits of being a tax-exempt corporate entity without having to do any of the work of setting up and maintaining such an entity,” said Dan Ravicher, legal director for the Software Freedom Law Center and one of the initial directors of the Conservancy. “Letting projects pass off the mundane administrative burdens placed on those wishing to benefit from nonprofit status is a significant way to keep developers focused on what they do best - writing software”.

The Software Freedom Conservancy ( will be a fiscal sponsor for FOSS projects by providing free financial and administrative services to its members. It will provide individual developers protection from personal liability for their projects and will seek to provide participating projects with tax-exempt status, allowing them to receive tax deductible donations. The Conservancy will file a single tax return that covers each of the member’s projects and will handle other corporate and tax related issues on behalf of its members. In addition, the Conservancy can hold project assets and manage them at the discretion of the project, which removes another fiscal burden from developers who are focused on software innovation.

“We understand the importance of having our legal, financial and administration houses in order, but our focus and energy needs to be on our code,” said Alexandre Julliard, The Wine Project, one of the Conservancy’s initial members. “The Software Freedom Conservancy gives us the opportunity to join with fellow community projects to gain needed legal and fiscal protections in a market where disruptive technologies such as open source software sometimes generate aggressive actions from other market participants”.

Other initial members of the Conservancy include SurveyOS, BusyBox and uClibc. For more information about the Conservancy and how to become a member, please visit

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