Software Freedom Conservancy

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Software Freedom Conservancy, Inc.
FoundedApril 7, 2006; 18 years ago (2006-04-07)
Key people
Karen Sandler (executive director)
Bradley M. Kuhn ("Policy Fellow and Hacker-in-Residence")
Revenue (2020)

Software Freedom Conservancy, Inc. (also known as "Conservancy") is an organization that provides a non-profit home and infrastructure support for free and open source software projects. The organization was established in 2006, and as of June 2022, had over 40 member projects.[2]


In 2007 Conservancy started coordinating GNU General Public License compliance and enforcement actions, primarily for the BusyBox project.[3]

In October 2010, Conservancy hired its first executive director, Bradley M. Kuhn[4] and a year later, its first General Counsel, Tony Sebro.[5] In May 2012, Conservancy took on GPL compliance and enforcement for several other member projects, as well as for a number of individual Linux kernel developers.[6][7] In March 2014, Conservancy appointed Karen Sandler as its Executive Director, with Bradley M. Kuhn taking on the role as Distinguished Technologist.[8][9]

In February 2015, the Outreachy program (formerly the Free and Open Source Software Program for Women) announced that it was moving from The GNOME Project to become part of Conservancy.[10]

By July 2015 Conservancy had reached 30 member projects, including QEMU, Boost, BusyBox, Git, Inkscape, Samba, Sugar Labs and Wine.[11]

In May 2016, Yorba Foundation assigned the copyrights of the projects it developed to Conservancy, including Shotwell, Geary, Valencia, and gexiv2.[12]

In November 2017, Conservancy reported that the Software Freedom Law Center had demanded the invalidation of the SFC's trademark.[13][non-primary source needed]

In June 2022, in reaction to the GitHub Copilot licensing controversy, Conservancy introduced their "Give Up GitHub" campaign.[14][15] The campaign urged open source developers to move away from GitHub to Codeberg or Sourcehut, or to self-hosted platforms.[14]


In July 2010, Conservancy announced it had prevailed in court against Westinghouse Digital, receiving an injunction as part of a default judgement.[16]

In March 2015, Conservancy announced it was funding litigation by Christoph Hellwig against VMware for violation of his copyrights in its ESXi product.[17][18] The case was taken up by the district court of Hamburg, Germany, where it was dismissed on procedural grounds, and then the same on appeal. Since by that point VMware was about to remove the copyleft material from its product for reasons unrelated to the litigation,[19] Hellwig decided not to appeal further.[20]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Roberts, Ken Schwencke, Mike Tigas, Sisi Wei, Alec Glassford, Andrea Suozzo, Brandon (May 9, 2013). "Software Freedom Conservancy Inc - Nonprofit Explorer". ProPublica. Retrieved September 13, 2022.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  2. ^ "Current Projects". Software Freedom Conservancy. Retrieved November 12, 2022.
  3. ^ Phipps, Simon (June 1, 2012). "Why the GPL licensing cops are the good guys". Infoworld. Retrieved June 3, 2012.
  4. ^ "Software Freedom Conservancy Appoints Full-Time Executive Director". October 4, 2010.
  5. ^ "Tony Sebro Joins Conservancy as General Counsel". September 30, 2011. Retrieved October 7, 2011.
  6. ^ Brian Proffitt (May 29, 2012). "Linux kernel devs, Samba join GPL compliance effort". IT World. Retrieved May 30, 2012.
  7. ^ "Conservancy Projects Launch Coordinated Free Software Compliance Efforts". Software Freedom Conservancy. May 29, 2012. Retrieved May 30, 2012.
  8. ^ "Karen Sandler joins Conservancy's Management Team". March 31, 2014. Retrieved April 17, 2014.
  9. ^ Bhati, Monika (April 1, 2014). "Karen Sandler resigns as GNOME Foundation's executive director". Muktware. Archived from the original on April 18, 2014. Retrieved April 17, 2014.
  10. ^ "Outreach Program to Join Conservancy from GNOME; Program Renames to Outreachy". Software Freedom Conservancy. February 4, 2015. Retrieved March 5, 2015.
  11. ^ "Current Member Projects - Software Freedom Conservancy". Retrieved February 2, 2015.
  12. ^ "Yorba Assigns Shotwell and Geary Copyrights to Software Freedom Conservancy". May 10, 2016. Retrieved November 17, 2015.
  13. ^ "SFLC Files Bizarre Legal Action Against Its Former Client". Software Freedom Conservancy. Retrieved November 4, 2017.
  14. ^ a b "Give Up Github!". Software Freedom Conservancy. June 29, 2022. Retrieved June 30, 2023.
  15. ^ Claburn, Thomas (June 30, 2022). "Open source body quits GitHub, urges you to do the same". The Register. Retrieved June 30, 2023.
  16. ^ "Conservancy Receives Default Judgment For BusyBox GPL Enforcement". Software Freedom Conservancy. Retrieved March 8, 2015.
  17. ^ "Conservancy Announces Funding for GPL Compliance Lawsuit". Software Freedom Conservancy. Retrieved March 7, 2015.
  18. ^ Phipps, Simon (March 5, 2015). "VMware heads to court over GPL violations". InfoWorld. Retrieved March 8, 2015.
  19. ^ "VMware's Update to Mr. Hellwig's Legal Proceedings". VMware. March 4, 2019. Archived from the original on November 3, 2023. Retrieved January 19, 2024.
  20. ^ "VMware Suit Concludes in Germany". Software Freedom Conservancy. Retrieved January 19, 2024.

External links[edit]