Recently, we’ve blogged about the current status of the Foundation, and now would like to give you some short updates to tell you where we stand and what’s still to do.
The translation of our Community Bylaws into German has been done. It took a tremendous amount of work to retain the spirit of the English version, while adapting it to German legalese. The next step will be for the German members of the Steering Committee to review it, and then adapt the changes — which are not in terms of content, but in terms of language — back to the original English version.
The text as is, however, will most probably not be sufficient for statutes in German law. Some paragraphs are much too detailed, others miss important legal information as required by German authorities. So, in a next step, we will separate the existing document into the legally binding statutes, and some remaining bylaws — thus meeting the needs of the state, and retaining the full spirit of the document.
For the ideal German federal state to base our Foundation in, we are in contact with an association assisting in these topics. Based on active people who could stem the legal process, possible choices would be (in alphabetical order) Baden-Wuerttemberg, Bavaria, Berlin, Hesse or North Rhine-Westphalia. However, this very much depends on the local requirements, so we might decide for a totally different state as well.
So, in a nutshell: As soon as we have feedback from the assisting association and wrote the legally binding statutes, we can approach the federal states. Again, the process takes so long as we want to do as much as we can on our own, in order to save costs and therefore limit spending donations.
In the meantime, the Membership Committee started its work, and the application for Community membership has been opened. Everyone involved in LibreOffice and wanting to contribute also in the future is invited to request membership. It is not necessary to do so in order to be part of the Community, but approved members will have the right to vote on the various seats and roles within the Foundation. So far, we have received about 100 applications in just 24 hours — wow!
We have also been asked various times on how we want to cooperate with possible corporate sponsors. The current draft of the Bylaws has two bodies inside the Foundation: the Board of Directors, and the Advisory Board. The Board of Directors should be elected by those it represents, by those for whom we created the project: the Community. A seat in the Board of Directors should therefore be based on engagement and merit, and not be decided by any comittee, but rather voted upon by the Community. The Advisory Board is for donors and sponsors, and seats inside will not be voted on, but are based on recurring contributions either with resources or money.
We are still researching on how this can be managed in German law, but the basic principle will stay the same: Seats in committees representing the Foundation and legally running it should be voted upon. This does of course not mean that corporations and entities cannot be represented there, they also can become Community members and run for votes. However, given the history of the project and the way we achieved things so far, we do not want a seat inside the Board of Directors to be granted for a donation. It should always be voted on by the Community. We had a history where single corporations had a large influence because of their financial background, and we want to avoid that in the future for our Community. This basic principle is very important to all of us: Openness, meritocracy, transparency, all based on merit.
Another noteworthy thing: The German association OpenOffice.org Deutschland e.V., current interim legal entity for The Document Foundation, has renamed itself to Freies Office Deutschland e.V., literally translated “Free Office Germany e.V.”. About 75% of the members agreed to that name change which has been planned for some months already, to demonstrate the independency from a single product or project. FrODeV’s support will stay the same, and on behalf of TDF a very warm thank you for all you have been doing for us so far!
So, exciting times ahead — thanks for being with us!