The XBMC Foundation
The XBMC Foundation was established as a non-profit entity on January 16, 2009. Since then we haven’t really released much information about the Foundation. We know this is something that comes up occasionally in the forums and there is a great deal of misleading information being passed around, so let me try and tackle a few of the more common questions.
Why do we need the Foundation?
The Foundation has been incorporated as a membership-based, not-for-profit, US based organization in order to ensure that the XBMC project continues to exist beyond the participation of individual volunteers. The reason for its existence is to promote XBMC and open-source software in general, ensure the vision of the XBMC Team as a whole remains in place, and allow us to collect donations, sponsorship and funding from a variety of sources in a safe and legal manner. It also ensures that the XBMC project remains independent of any commercial ventures that may make use of the codebase.
Essentially the foundation gives certainty moving forward and provides a legal entity with which donations can be accepted so that individuals don’t have to handle donation monies.
Who is a member of the Foundation?
Individuals who have demonstrated a commitment to the project, through sustained participation and contributions will be eligible to join the Team. An individual becomes part of the Team after nomination and approval by a majority of the existing Team members.
Any XBMC Team member that has been with the project actively for 6 months, will automatically become a member of the Foundation and gain voting rights. It should be noted that the Foundation has no influence over individual Team members, other than possibly making recommendations of what does and doesn’t fit the overall vision for XBMC.
Who is in charge of the Foundation?
The Foundation is run by a board of bi-annually elected members. The current board consists of: Jonathan Marshall (jmarshall) – President, Arne Morten Kvarving (spiff), Joakim Plate (elupus), Yuval Tal (yuvalt), and Staffan Lindberg (pike). In addition there are two officers: Sean Soria (malloc) as Treasurer and Cory Fields (theuni) as Business Relations Manager.
Why do we need corporate sponsors and what benefit do we get out of it?
We benefit from sponsors in three ways: funding, support and publicity. All of which bring great benefits to the project and community as a whole. For example, not only do sponsors give financial funding, but more often than not they also help identify and fix bugs and contribute code to back into XBMC.
It is in their best interests to work with us; if they are using XBMC as part of their business, they need issues fixed and in turn much of the code used to fix their issue is returned into core XBMC. Likewise for new features, if they develop something and XBMC feel that it is appropriate for inclusion that development will make it into core XBMC, assuming it fits in with our overall vision and standards. Certainly, being a sponsor does not imply that your code makes it into XBMC.
What happens to corporate sponsorship money / users donations?
A great many things, but fundamentally whatever is in the best interest of the project. A significant sum of money has been paid in legal fees recently for incorporating the XBMC Foundation. Additionally, things like the annual DevCon and XBMC attending trade-shows would not be possible without this funding – XBMC developers are located all over the world, and so the vast majority of donations and sponsorship goes to air travel. Purchasing of hardware is also an area that is often overlooked. When users want support for the latest and greatest hardware or feature, sometimes this can be developed without access to the hardware. More often than not though, it is much quicker if the Devs have access to this hardware and if needed the Foundation can help them to attain it. In cases like this, the hardware is only on loan to the Dev’s and ownership is retained by the foundation.
Why is XBMC selling out?
We are not. The Foundation was established as a safeguard for the open-source project, in order to facilitate a means of collecting and distributing donations as needed, and to provide oversight when issues arise. These things would be impossible to orchestrate without a governing body. Almost all large open-source projects have a similar body.
Who is getting rich out of this?
Contrary to what some may think, we are not making millions from this, and no one is sitting around surrounded by piles of awesome hardware. Our budget is small and noone receives a salary. This is a community project and we all devote our time for free because we enjoy doing so. There is no financial motive to be part of XBMC. If anything it’s the users of XBMC that are getting rich out of this – you get XBMC and all of the support you need for free! Fortunately, every member of Team XBMC is ALSO an XBMC user, and so we benefit from the program itself just as much as everyone else.
There have been a few cases where companies have hired XBMC developers on a contractual basis to help with the integration of their product. This type of work is encouraged, as it is essentially sponsored development of XBMC. We welcome any company who is willing to sponsor development in a way that complies (both in letter and in spirit) with the GPL. After all, the best thing that could happen for the project would be to have the developers working full-time on it!
Where can I find out more about the Foundation?
Admittedly there is not much information published about the Foundation. The reason is simple: the bureaucratic side of open-source is far less fun than writing code. As a result, it gets less attention than it should. We are in the process of documenting all of this and will be putting it on the site for all to see.
Hopefully this should help answer some of the questions about the Foundation and why it is necessary. In time we will publish more details about the Foundation and its members, however in the mean time if you have any specific questions please feel free to contact us.