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[board-discuss] LibreOffice Personal & TDF's statutes & purpose

Hi Alex,

On 06/07/2020 10:27, Alexander Werner wrote in bugzilla at
Cleary, The Document Foundation must release a version that is open
to all intended audiences. As clearly stated in the statues, the
intended audience is: everyone, explicitly including COMPANIES and

        Some comments on that; the statutes are public here:

I quote from the preamble:

      "The objective of the foundation is the promotion and
       development of office software available for use by anyone
       free of charge."

        A tag and about box text doesn't modify any of this. The
fundamental license and availability for use by anyone free of charge

        Clearly that is so. Beyond tweaking the brand with a tag - no
change is suggested to the software or its distribution at all.

        Moving on let me include the omitted second paragraph:

        "The foundation promotes a sustainable, independent and
         meritocratic community for the international development of
         free and open source software based on open standards."

        These mission goals are not optional. We need to be
sustainable - How large a community do you think it is necessary to
have to sustain the software ? how do we promote that ?

The issue gets even clearer:

"This software will be openly available for free use by anyone for
their own files, including companies and public authorities,
ensuring full participation in a digital society and without
detriment to intellectual property."

        So - LibreOffice Personal -as-now- will be openly available
for free use by anyone; so that is also clearly met.

* Some background on the history & philosophical context here:

        + Free Software has for decades been fighting against the
          idea that it is free-as-in-beer, and talking of

        + RMS regularly distinguishes Libre from Gratis, and talks
          about the vital freedoms. Arguably the Open Source movement
          itself is a reaction against this "free of price" frame.

        + if we take an extreme view of this paragraph in our statutes
          that would lead me to the conclusion that we are mis-named:
          we should be called "GratisOffice" - if freedom from price
          is the core purpose of the project. Perhaps we're overdue
          for a re-brand:

          if our core purpose is Gratis; it's just horribly
          confusing to call ourselves Libre.

        + Many commnity members I've spoken to have little sympathy
          for enterprises that just take, and contribute nothing
          back except bug reports & associated aggravation.

        + They have even less sympathy for those who charge for using
          our brand and software in the enterprise, and then
          contribute nothing back.

        + By focusing here, it -can- sound as if you arguing that
          our core purpose is to give free stuff to large, rich
          enterprises ? that we should sweat and toil for free,
          for the good of IBM, or Oracle, or ... =) surely not.

        + for me that's not a motivating factor whatsoever, I want
          to collaborate with other contributors to promote and
          develop an office suite available for use by anyone
          free of charge; in a sustainable way.

        LibreOffice Personal/Community could be how we promote that.

        But really, how it is marketed, what tags go on the splash
screen - how we try to -effectively- (we're good at doing this
ineffectively ;-) steer people towards even starting to understand
that they need to contribute, whether directly themselves or via the
ecosystem - these all seem to be tactical issues.

        We know that existing attempts to do that are an utter
failure, with zero up-take. We know that enterprises (charitably)
don't even know that they should do the right thing here.

        We know that changing here might be disruptive, but having
some suggestions of what changes might be acceptable and some idea of
what success might look like would be really helpful. What do you
think TDF should concretely do to solve the problems I outline:

        We know that enterprises don't donate and that the vast
majority don't contribute, so it is individual persons via donations,
or via awesome contributions =) alongside the ecosystem who end up
funding what work goes on the project.

        I think Bjoern states that rather well here[1]:

        "IMHO, the same applies even stronger to @tdforg as an NGO: I
        dont think other institutions -- especially commercial ones
        that are not contributing to its projects -- have any moral
        rights to its output."

        But, of course - perhaps there is another way that TDF as an
NGO can deliver its mission, stay true to its purpose, improve the
software, and create the big, grateful, fun community I keep banging
on about as a vision =)

        I'd really like to hear ideas there. Say we use a different,
or no tag for example - how do we get the message across to
enterprises effectively that they need to contribute ? either tons of
code themselves, or more realistically funding to the ecosystem ? how
does that differ from today ? and why do we think it will work ? we
can always try new things of course.

        Thanks !


[1] -
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