GnuTLS, copyright assignment, and GNU project governance
Posted Dec 21, 2012 0:38 UTC (Fri) by johnsu01
Parent article: GnuTLS, copyright assignment, and GNU project governance
(The FSF unfortunately wasn't asked to comment for this article, but I wanted to add a few things now.)
We resolve violations on a regular basis, and in countries around the world. We usually do not publish the specifics, because most violations are resolved constructively -- it often turns out people have unintentionally made mistakes and do not deserve shaming once they have remedied the problems. If they do not respond to our offers to help them distribute in a compliant way, then we escalate to stop the flawed distribution. But at that point, lawyers are often involved, and there can be other constraints on publicity.
Here is a description of our compliance strategy. It's tricky business, figuring out how to let people know exactly how much of this work we do on a daily basis, without going too far and shaming those who have corrected their mistakes.
In recent conversations with Werner, it's become clear that our primary deficiency here was in communication. I admit that we did not pursue the violations he reported to us with the kind of urgency that I expect us to -- but we did pursue them, progressing through the steps of documentation, contact, and escalation that are required in these cases. The most recent violations were not of the easy kind, because they involved difficult-to-track-down companies with mostly bogus contact information. The problem is that we did not keep Werner up-to-date, and I am sorry for that. We've now adjusted our process to include explicitly notifying GNU maintainers when we take action. And of course we have stepped up our efforts to get these violations resolved.
Organizations like ours contain many moving parts, and unfortunately this creates opportunities for error. But there are always things that can be done to improve the situation, and it's my job to make them happen.
Many of the issues in the article are about lack of resources in nonprofit organizations. The solution to these issues is to help rally more resources, for us and for others doing this work. Volunteer time can be a big help, and so can monetary donations.
Thanks to a successful fundraiser at the end of last year, we were able to add additional staff resources to our licensing and compliance lab this Spring. Of course the new staff had to be brought up to speed, but this has already gone a long way toward reducing the backlogs we are facing. We have triaged the license violation reports queue, reducing its size by over 50%. We have opened more compliance cases than ever before, and have also rapidly made progress on outstanding licensing education questions. This effort has been amplified by our existing volunteer team, who does a lot of the heavy lifting answering licensing questions from the community.
We are also doing our major fundraising drive for the coming year, and are almost 40% of the way there. Like last year, our licensing area is one of the top ones on my mind for expansion. I will always strive to improve our efficiency in the way we use our current resources, but I am also confident that with more, we could get more done and do a better job living up to the expectations you all have for us.
-- John Sullivan, Executive Director, FSF
to post comments)