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03.08.20

The Open Source Initiative (OSI) is Apparently, as Per Latest IRS Disclosure, About 95% Companies-Funded

Posted in Microsoft, OSI at 9:31 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

OSI
Founded in the US by two Americans, albeit now sort of based in England.

Summary: The OSI in 2020 (or even prior years; since Microsoft started paying it) is led by corporations rather than people and the Open Source Definition (OSD) no longer seems to matter

TECHRIGHTS often covers corruption at the European Patent Office (EPO), which is basically exempted from the Rule of Law (diplomatic immunity and isolation from local authorities). We’ve also come across non-profits or tax-exempt entities which make one wonder if the IRS pays close enough attention. Microsoft’s co-founder, for example, evades tax by setting up a front group that bribes the media and invests in alcoholic beverages, petroleum giants, and GMO (for profit of course). In the age of Donald Trump, according to new research (see Daily Links), the likelihood of enforcement — let alone prosecution — for white-collar crimes is at an all-time low. Morality and ethics aren’t important and even law-breaking is something one can get away with. If the President himself breaks the law quite so often, what kind of moral authority (or example) is that anyway?

“In the age of Donald Trump, according to new research (see Daily Links), the likelihood of enforcement — let alone prosecution — for white-collar crimes is at an all-time low.”Now, we aren’t going to call OSI a “scam” or anything like that. To be frank, they’re impoverished and underfunded compared to many non-profits we’ve studied. The salaries page from 2017 shows this:

OSI salaries
And there are even Microsoft staff in there.

And here are the sums of cash inflow (for that year):

OSI income
All or most of the “gifts” come from companies, which according to the OSI’s Web pages aren’t typically “Open Source” companies. That’s 2017, the year Microsoft paid them.

For the FSF, in the same year, it was about 50%/50%. Here’s 2017:

FSF income
The FSF gets about 50 times more money from members (compared to OSI), who account for the majority (all combined)

In the case of the OSI, notice how little of the total money comes from members. Assume that the rest comes from companies, not people. Yet a few months ago the OSI boasted about how members were driving it (a word cloud with members’ names); that’s just clearly not the case.

We can see who calls the shots, controlling the salaries with potential of taking the money away (or stopping the annual transaction). That’s one heck of a leverage to have over the OSI! One critical blog post about Microsoft and bam! There goes like 20% of their salary. Would they take the risk?

“We can see who calls the shots, controlling the salaries with potential of taking the money away (or stopping the annual transaction). That’s one heck of a leverage to have over the OSI! One critical blog post about Microsoft and bam! There goes like 20% of their salary. Would they take the risk?”These IRS filings aren’t as detailed as one might hope (even some publicly-traded companies are more transparent). It does not break things down by company, but we know that there are now several directions through which Microsoft funnels money into OSI (e.g. GitHub) and we’ve searched online for the sums involved to no avail. We’ve tried hard, but still cannot find it…

All we know is that Microsoft funnels money to the OSI and it definitely gets its money's worth. We can’t see the “price list”; one would need to use E-mail to inquire, based on this page which says: “contact the OSI to find out more about how your company can promote open source development, communities and software.”

There’s the following further down the page (shades of Linux Foundation):

Recognition

The OSI recognizes the donations and support of our Corporate Sponsors through acknowledgements in all OSI events (conferences meet-ups, etc.), communications (mailing lists, newsletters, social media, etc.) and publications (brochures, reports, websites, etc.).

Annual Corporate Revenues Annual Donation

Greater than $10 billion… $30,000
Greater than $1 billion, but less than or equal to $10 billion $25,000
Greater than $250 million, but less than or equal to $1 billion $20,000
Greater than $100 million, but less than or equal to $250 million $15,000
Greater than $50 million, but less than or equal to $100 million $10,000
Greater than $10 million, but less than or equal to $50 million $7,500
Greater than $5 million, but less than or equal to $10 million $5,000
Greater than $1 million, but less than or equal to $5 million $2,500
Less than $1 million $1,000

These contributions are in United States Dollars.

Linux Foundation is listed among the sponsors, which isn’t a badge of honour.

What do members get for their money (which they give to OSI, adding to much larger sums from companies like Facebook, Google and Microsoft)?

“Linux Foundation is listed among the sponsors, which isn’t a badge of honour.”Well, that’s an important question. In FOSDEM this year Facebook, Google and Linux Foundation staff spoke on behalf of the OSI. Michael Cheng, Max Sills, and Chris Aniszczyk get their salaries from surveillance capitalists.

Let’s examine the charter or constitution/s of the OSI, which we presume to revolve around guarding the Open Source Definition (OSD) rather than rejection of the OSD — something we’ve been seeing lately. This is why the two co-founders protested and then vanished (the latter banned by his own creation for it!).

Browsing the original/source, one is led to originals here in the IRS Web site [PDF] with HTML versions here. The tax ID number (TIN/EIN) is 91-2037395. The stated “Mission” is: “To (1) educate the public about the advantages of open source software [software that users are free to modify and redistribute]; (2) encourage the software community to participate in open source software development; (3) identify how software users’ objectives are best served through open source software; (4) persuade organizations and software authors to distribute source software freely they otherwise would not distribute; (5) provide resources for sharing information about open source software and licenses; (6) assist attorneys to craft open source licenses; (7) manage a certification program to allow use of one or more certification marks in association with open source software; and (8) advocate for open source principles.”

“This is why the two co-founders protested and then vanished (the latter banned by his own creation for it!).”Attempts to find the governance documents on the OSI’s own Web site were not successful. It is worth noting that their meeting minutes which they publish online are not accessible. There are many broken links and one can barely access any of this material. Speaking about this in #techrights (IRC) earlier today, oiaohm said: “LOL I just read the title line on that page. List of OSI Board Meeting Minutes & Portfolio Reports (2005-2018)

“Overdue for an update, thinking 2019 minutes are there. Should have been a simple List of OSI Board Meeting Minutes & Portfolio Reports (2005-current)

So their Web site isn’t properly maintained, even for new/recent additions and it’s hard to see what they’re doing or striving to do (other than posting Microsoft job ads, as they did yesterday!).

“So there’s something exploitative about it, contrary to what we advocate on International Women’s Day.”It is stated on their 2017 tax form that they “educate the public about open source software and maintain the open source standards definition,” based on the IRS database. “It does not say anything about protecting it etc.” according to an associate of ours. So if the OSI isn’t even upholding the OSD, composed by Bruce Perens (who left in protest earlier this year), what are these guys doing? Yes, guys. There may be many women in OSI, but based on the IRS paperwork none of them are paid. So there’s something exploitative about it, contrary to what we advocate on International Women’s Day.

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