Why are we setting up a foundation?
The immediate reason for setting up a foundation is to put OpenSimulator on a formal basis with regards to code contribution and subsequent redistribution. To do this, we require contributors to submit a Contributor's License Agreement. BY collecting a CLA from contributors, we can relax some of the previous contribution restrictions, such as the rule that prevents any contributions from developers who have looked at the viewer codebase within the past 6 months.
We are also looking to establish the Overte Foundation as a 501c(3) entity. This will allow tax-free donations by US residents. In the long term, the foundation could also act as an umbrella for other open source virtual environment projects. In fact, this is why we're calling it the "Overte Foundation" rather than the "OpenSimulator Foundation".
Where can I find out more information about the Contributor's Agreement?
The one section that we have modified significantly is "2.2 Patent License". As with the vanilla Harmony agreement, the contributor grants a license over any patents they own which cover their contribution to the Overte Foundation and subsequent users of the software.
The Overte Foundation has added extra text which makes it clear that these patent licenses cover only the original contribution. The grant does not automatically to other patents claims of the contributor that cover subsequent third-party contributions.
The clause in the final paragraph beginning "If any entity institutes patent litigation against You..." withdraws the patent license granted for a contribution from any entity that institutes patent litigation against the contributor over their contribution or over a software project that includes that contribution. This is identical to the text contained in paragraph 3 of the Apache Software Foundation Contributor License Agreement.
Are you planning to ask for donations?
We do plan to ask for donations in the future but at the moment we’re actually still in the process of setting things up. This means that we don’t yet have a bank account that could receive donations in the foundation’s name.
It probably would be possible to funnel donations through an individual but we felt that it would be better to wait until the foundation itself can receive them.
When we do ask for donations, they will go in the short term towards the expenses associated with setting up and maintaining a non-profit corporation, as well as gaining 501c(3) status and establishing the Contributor's Agreement. All donations of any amount will be very gratefully received.
In the longer term, donations will go towards supporting and promoting the OpenSimulator project. They may also go towards other activities or other member open-source projects, though if and when this happens the expansion of focus will be made very clear.
Will the foundation control OpenSimulator development itself?
It will not. Direct control of OpenSimulator development will remain with the OpenSimulator core developers, defined as those people who have commit rights to the OpenSimulator software code repository. Developers are offered commit rights when they make significant contributions to the OpenSimulator project over a period of time and with the approval of the existing core developers. OpenSimulator development is also pushed forward by contributed patches and through testing and use of OpenSimulator by the entire community.