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The Document Foundation Launches €50K Challenge, Legal Entity Quest 69

Posted by timothy
from the gotta-be-legal-gotta-be-safe dept.
An anonymous reader writes "The Document Foundation, the group responsible for forking the OpenOffice.org project away from Oracle's control and into the shiny new LibreOffice suite, has announced a drive to raise €50,000 to set up as a legal entity. The Foundation, formed by numerous OpenOffice.org community members tired of the overbearing hand of Oracle preventing them from progressing the development of the popular open source productivity suite, has passed several recent milestones. It's released a full feature-complete version of its LibreOffice productivity suite, and announced deals with companies including Canonical to have LibreOffice replace OpenOffice.org as the default productivity suite in several Linux distributions."
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The Document Foundation Launches €50K Challenge, Legal Entity Quest

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  • ad bait? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by mr_mischief (456295) on Friday February 18, 2011 @03:21AM (#35241420) Journal

    All the links in the summary point to the same site. All the links in all the stories linked from here go back to the same web of stories on the same site. There's not a link to an actual original reference anywhere except to the original mailing list announcement about Libre Office. There's not even one to The Document Foundation's site. It's all just ad-bearing pages forming a neat little maze.

  • Maybe they should incorporate in a different country, I mean, at worst were looking at around $400 for a regular corp and $800 for a non-profit (US States), at the currently ran operation needing eu 50k to start up I would seriously doubt the legitimacy of the management at this point.
    • by Anonymous Coward

      Maybe they should incorporate in a different country, I mean, at worst were looking at around $400 for a regular corp and $800 for a non-profit (US States), at the currently ran operation needing eu 50k to start up I would seriously doubt the legitimacy of the management at this point.

      Are the encryption export prohibition still there?.

    • Re:tl;dr (Score:5, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward on Friday February 18, 2011 @04:15AM (#35241572)

      Incorporating in the "United States States" would raise a lot larger risks by way of being sued under patents that aren't even recognized anywhere else and will make using it elsewhere much harder. Try coming out of your tiny shell, the world is bigger.

      The 50k is only the required startup amount for any incorporated entity; if they're serious they'll need a lot more to keep it going. The 50k isn't gone either; you get to keep the money as incorporation (but not as investor).

      • by Anonymous Coward

        New Zealand. No software patents
        http://en.swpat.org/wiki/New_Zealand

    • by Anonymous Coward

      That might cover the filing fees, but if you are starting a corporate entity it would make sense to consult a lawyer and tax attorney, which probably explains a good chunk of the other money they are asking for.

    • well, I will trust a German "Stiftung" more. Mainly irrational reasons based on images of German work ethic., etc. Just donated 25€
    • Re:tl;dr (Score:4, Informative)

      by xaxa (988988) on Friday February 18, 2011 @06:26AM (#35241944)

      According to Wikipedia [wikipedia.org], to start a Stiftung "there is no minimum starting capital, although in practice at least €50,000 is considered necessary."

      It's only £20 to start a company in the UK, but presumably you'd still be advised to have some starting capital.

  • To be saying things like "tired of the overbearing hand of Oracle preventing them from progressing"

    I support the fork, and think it's good they did it when momentum was on their side, but to act like they were prevented from progression by oracle is silly. It was seeing the writing on the wall at best (and very likely) and fear at worse.

    • by drinkypoo (153816)

      They WERE prevented from progression by Oracle. I gave them a dollar. Well actually, a dollar forty, I gave them a Euro. I figure it's the least I can do, and I won't even notice the financial impact. If more of us did this they'd be closer to their goal. How much closer? Depends on how many. I didn't spend a lot of time agonizing over it and I can always give more later but you can't ungive.

      • by fractoid (1076465)
        I want to know more about this 'prevented from progression' thing. What were they prevented from doing? What did Oracle tell them they weren't allowed to do? Was it significant enough to make the front page of /. or, more important, significant enough to throw away whatever dev. work Oracle would have paid for in the future?
      • by AvitarX (172628)

        For how long?
        How long did they try to work withing the system before forking off?
        I will say, I support Libre Office, and I don't think Oracle is the place for them to be.
        But to say "tired of the overbearing hand of Oracle preventing them from progressing". I think it was more accurate to say they didn't trust Oracle, and want to be completely independent.

        At least in my region being tired of something implies long term dealing with it.

  • Fifty thousand sounds like an outrageous figure. I can start (and have started) a company for MUCH MUCH less than that. "The Steering Committee came to the conclusion that a foundation based in Germany would provide the best stability" *cough* BS *cough*. And their second choice is the UK? What the hell? Are these people naive or just lazy? For a borderless organization, it simply strains belief that they would choose a business-hostile jurisdiction to incorporate under. Hell, I could make some phone
    • by Chrisq (894406) on Friday February 18, 2011 @04:25AM (#35241604)

      Fifty thousand sounds like an outrageous figure. I can start (and have started) a company for MUCH MUCH less than that. "The Steering Committee came to the conclusion that a foundation based in Germany would provide the best stability" *cough* BS *cough*. And their second choice is the UK? What the hell? Are these people naive or just lazy? For a borderless organization, it simply strains belief that they would choose a business-hostile jurisdiction to incorporate under. Hell, I could make some phone calls and have a Hong Kong company up and running by the end of next week. Even if they wanted to stay in Europe for some reason, aren't there friendly jurisdictions like Luxembourg or Andorra or something? The equivalent to Delaware? I smell a rat, someone (or someone's cousin, fraternity brother, etc.) is making some cash off this deal.

      You could have RTFA and saved yourself a rant.

      "After thorough investigation, the Steering Committee came to the conclusion that a foundation based in Germany would provide the best stability, not only for our users, but also for adopters, developers and enterprises," Foundation founder Florian Effenberger claimed in a statement released today. "To achieve this stability, a capital stock of at least €50,000 is considered best practice in Germany."

      In other words they could probably get a €100 company the same as you can in the UK but it is considered best practice to have capital funding (a nominal stock value)

      • by vadim_t (324782) on Friday February 18, 2011 @04:45AM (#35241664) Homepage

        Best practice for what, though? That sounds like a rule of thumb for opening a business. If you're going to rent office/shop space, purchase equipment, hire employees and so on and don't expect to be making a profit for a year, then that makes sense.

        But this is community based software development we're talking about. Everybody already has their equipment, no office space is needed, and nobody should need to be hired (except if they need a web designer or lawyer temporarily I guess).

        So what's all that money for?

        • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

          by Anonymous Coward

          Assuming a 5% interest rate, the 50k will net them 2.5k in interests per year,
          which (the 2.5k) is considered to be the lower limit for having a working Stiftung.

          The money stays in the Stiftung, it is not to pay lawyers and stuff ;-)

        • by wzzzzrd (886091) on Friday February 18, 2011 @06:29AM (#35241954)
          It's not just "best practice". They want to setup a so called "Stiftung", which is something like a "Foundation" in the english speaking world. It is a form of business entity that is often used in Germany for non-profit purposes, and most entities that take donations in Germany are some kind of "Stiftung". These kinds of business entities are well protected (like a GmbH or LTD) and donors get a tax refund for their donations.

          And for the kind of "Stiftung" they want to set up, they need 50k base capital, as the law in Germany says. As simple as that.
        • by westlake (615356)

          But this is community based software development we're talking about. Everybody already has their equipment, no office space is needed, and nobody should need to be hired (except if they need a web designer or lawyer temporarily I guess).

          The Mozilla Foundation [wikipedia.org] receives about 90% of its funding - $60 millon a year - through AdSense.

          That means a project can have an independent - full time - staff to provide direction and maintain momentum.

          The project is more than the code.

          Microsoft spends billions on the study of office work and the office worker.

          The developer - the geek - can be very distant from the user and at times almost openly hostile and that comes at a price.

          You can schedule a room and a projector in Outlook.

          It seems a very simp

          • The Mozilla Foundation receives about 90% of its funding - $60 millon a year - through AdSense.

            Unlike the right side of a web search result page, I'm not aware of any place in LibreOffice to stick an advertisement without it looking as tacky as the ads in the "lite" version of an application that also has a pay-per-user "deluxe" version.

            You can schedule a room and a projector in Outlook.

            Isn't that what Mozilla Sunbird or Thunderbird+Lightning is supposed to do?

        • In germany it depends whether you want to found a stock company or a company of limited liability. The first one is required to rais funds of 50k â the later one is required to raise 25â (by law).

          However you can found a limited company under UK law e.g. in germany where the monetary requirements are lower. But all the other stuff (tax, reporting, publishing etc.) is the same so in general it is discouraged to do that.

          The money will be likely wel spend to run a web site and a server ... and after a

    • by ledow (319597)

      UK is business-hostile? That's news to our GDP. And we don't have an awful lot of silly laws that some countries have that would affect open-source (e.g. software patents, etc.)

      According to Wiki, by GDP it goes:

      Europe
      America
      People's Republic of China
      Japan
      Germany
      France
      United Kingdom

      and has done for the last few years. PRC doesn't have a great record as regards freedom of expression, and there are communications problems in many of the others. I think just from that list, I'd be inclined to use Germany fi

      • by GDP it goes

        There are multiple metrics related to gross domestic product, and it's wise to consider how population and exchange rates affect how you plan to apply this metric. A country's nominal GDP can be thought of as three components multiplied together: standard of living, exchange rate of currency, and population. In a lot of cases, you want to eliminate population from the formula to convert GDP from an extensive property to an intensive property [wikipedia.org]. GDP per capita eliminates population, penalizing PRC [wikipedia.org] but boosting

    • by Anonymous Coward

      If they are not a business, a business friendly jurisdiction may be exactly where they don't want to incorporate. Privatization of the commons has happened before and may happen again in countries where the law is largely determined by those with the deepest pockets.

    • by Kupfernigk (1190345) on Friday February 18, 2011 @04:49AM (#35241674)
      Calling Germany "business-hostile" - the country with a huge base of small and medium size businesses? Whereas Hong Kong is officially part of the PRC and its political stability is by no means assured. I think you totally fail to understand the difference between the ease of incorporating a company (here in the UK I could have DNS-and-BIND Services Ltd. by the end of today for a few hundred dollars) and the real costs of startup.

      As someone married to a specialist small business accountant, I can tell you that the main cause of small business failure is people like you who simply do not allow for nearly enough cash to burn through post-incorporation. (One person IT businesses don't count, they are just a tax avoidance scheme). Fifty thousand euros for a real company suggests a tight budget.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Friday February 18, 2011 @05:04AM (#35241714)

      You just don't have any idea what you are talking about.
      If they wanted to, they could have a Germany-based company running for a few Euros - but that is not the point.
      As explained on the challenge page ( http://challenge.documentfoundation.org/why/ ) they do have some good reasons to use
      a "Stiftungsmodell". The basic thing is, they are not founding a company, they are forming a non-profit.

      Quoting from the page:
      > Foundations have quite a good tradition in Germany, and the benefits in terms of taxes,
      > limited liability and international credibility are high. With the German-based model,
      > activities are not limited to one country: the foundation can and will be active worldwide.
      A gemeinnuetzige Stiftung is exempt from paying most taxes, and allows tax deductions for donors.

      Furthermore ist is a very safe way to organize a community project, quoting again:
      > In addition, the German model provides a high security and stability, as the foundation's statutes cannot be changed and,
      > therefore, cannot be abused. Setting up a corporation or an association, on the other hand, would expose us to the risk that,
      > if a majority of all stakeholders so decided, the statutes could be changed, even as far as removing charitable purposes.
      > In order to provide safety and stability, not only for our users, adopters, developers and enterprises, but for the whole community,
      > a German-based foundation is ideal.

    • by gmueckl (950314) on Friday February 18, 2011 @05:32AM (#35241792)

      A "Stiftung" is a legal entity, but not a for-profit company in the usual sense. It's purpose has to be charitable and it's main function usually is to provide funding towards that goal. Plus, they may get tax exception. So the Document Foundation is aiming for creating a legal entity that actually is designed things like what they are doing.

      I don't know if there is a minimal amount of money required for creating a Stiftung (I could look that up). But by German law, founding of for-profit companies is difficult. Either you end up liable for your company with everything that you own privately (your house, your car, you name it) or you have to provide a considerable amount of money as initial company funding. The minimum that you can currently get away with is 10000 euros for a Unternehmergesellschaft (haftungsbeschränkt), which has to be raised to 25000 euros during operations. That's not a fee that you pay. It's just the mandated initial capital. So requiring 50000 euros for a Stiftung does not seem out of the ordinary to me.

      I know that for example in GB you can get a Ltd. for a few hundred pounds and 1 pound of required minimal capital. But that's not something that you ultimately want: nobody will trust such a company enough to make business with it in good faith. So this required minimum capital is actually a good thing.

      • by xaxa (988988)

        I know that for example in GB you can get a Ltd. for a few hundred pounds and 1 pound of required minimal capital. But that's not something that you ultimately want: nobody will trust such a company enough to make business with it in good faith. So this required minimum capital is actually a good thing.

        It's even less than that, see the Government site [companieshouse.gov.uk]. £20 for a registration in 8-10 days, £50 ($80) for a same day registration, if you send them the form by 15:00. A few friends of mine have done the £20 + £1 version for their mobile app companies, just by following guides online, but no one needs to trust them.

        The press release says "Should the race for funds not succeed, The Document Foundation will use the donations to incorporate itself in a different country that requires less ca

    • What exactly do you consider business unfriendly in germany or UK. And how do you come to the idea that for an "international" operating software "company" Honkong (which is in China last time I checked map) is of any advantage?
      And what exactly is the difference between Andorra/Luxemburg and UK/germany? You have NO CLUE WHATSOEVER .... it is all in the EU they have THE SAME LAWS!

      angel'o'sphere

  • Okay, it took Detroit 6 days to raise 50k to get a Robocop statue. How long do you think this will take? (http://detroitneedsrobocop.com/ for those interested)

  • Only PayPal as a payment option?
  • by ledow (319597)

    I stuck a tenner in. Why not? I've had infinitely more usage out of that program than I did all the others I've paid for in the past.

    And I don't feel like giving *anything* to Oracle at the moment, with their mission to destroy every large open-source project.

    With LibreOffice, I wanted it as soon as I heard it, waited for a stable version, tested and deployed and it's now all over my workplace and on my laptop. It fixes problems that have annoyed me in the past and allowed me to open an ANCIENT word-proc

    • I agree completely. In fact I tossed them $20 myself.
      I jumped on their second beta and have not looked back.
      I used it yesterday to fix a corrupted excel document, that real excel would just crash on.
  • Call me again ... (Score:2, Informative)

    by angel'o'sphere (80593)

    ... when someone is working on "office tools" that are not mere clones of Windows and Excel. I find the MS office tools completely unusable and the more "Open Office" or how you want to call it mimics MS office the less useful it is imho.

    E.g. editing a cell in "Excel" or the OO equivalent ... I type and realize the letter in the middle of the word is wrong. I hit left arrow ... and what happens? The curser is not moving left but the cell left of the cell I edited is highlighted. How retarded! I'm in "editin

  • I wish I had $50,000 to give them,I would.Maybe the would accept small donations.

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