Donation based Social Contract

A donation based social contract.


This document describes the social contract for the community around a piece of open source software (“the software”). It lays out the moral and ethical rules the community agrees to in order to ensure a long, healthy, sustainable life for the software.

It is not a legal agreement, although sections of it reference legal agreements. It is a moral and ethical one - it is the foundation upon which the community is built.

By joining the community, you agree to the rules and beliefs outlined in this social contract.


We follow the principles of sustainable free and open source communities.

We are a unified body of individuals, scattered throughout the larger society, who work in support of the creation, evolution, use, and extension of the software; while ensuring its longevity through meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of the community of the future to meet its own needs.

We want the software to exist, to solve our problems, to continue to improve, and to be available for our use. Therefore, we commit that we will uphold these four freedoms for all, under all circumstances:

  • The freedom to run the program as you wish, for any purpose (freedom 0).
  • The freedom to study how the program works, and change it so it does your computing as you wish (freedom 1).
  • The freedom to redistribute copies so you can help others (freedom 2).
  • The freedom to distribute copies of your modified versions to others (freedom 3).

We do this because:

  • We believe that software is better when it is produced in the commons.
  • We believe that sustainable communities are based on just and fair institutions.
  • We value the ability of every person to use the software to better their own lives.


Code of Conduct

To ensure that all people are welcome, treated fairly and safely, this community has a code of conduct, published at [CODE OF CONDUCT]. It applies equally to all members of the community, both on-line and in person. Membership and participation in the community requires following the Code of Conduct.


Membership in the community is broad based, available to anyone who is participating in any fashion. Requirements for membership involve a minimal amount of verification of identity, and proof of engagement with the community. Membership consists solely of individuals - there are no corporate community members.

Guidelines for membership can be found at [MEMBERSHIP GUIDELINES].


Periodically, the membership may be requested to vote in elections, or on a referendum on an important issue. Each member is entitled to a single vote, and all votes count equally.

This community uses [VOTING SYSTEM] for voting, and guidelines for voting can be found at [VOTING GUIDELINES].


Leadership in the community is based on a strong executive model. The Project Leader will be elected by a simple majority vote according to the voting guidelines. The Project Leader will serve for [TERM], at the end of which a new election for Project Leader will be held.

The Project Leader has broad authority to manage the project as they see fit, to delegate positions of authority, and to enact new governance rules. The exception is amending this social contract. This can only be done with a 34 vote of the membership.

A new election can be held for the Project Leader at any time, regardless of term, based on a simple majority vote of the membership.

The full set of guidelines for the Project can be found at [PROJECT RULES].

Licensing, Copyrights, Patents, and Trademarks

Software License

All software produced by the community will be published under the [SOFTWARE LICENSE]. All contributors to the software agree to publish their work under this license, and to have it included in any distributions or derivatives allowed under the same terms.


All copyrights remain the property of the original copyright holder, under the terms of the [SOFTWARE LICENSE].


Any patents included in the software must be made available under the same terms as the [SOFTWARE LICENSE].


Any trademarks that may exist, relating to the software directly, are the ethical property of the community itself. Their use in the software is made available under the same terms as the [SOFTWARE LICENSE].

Further details can be found in the [TRADEMARK POLICY].

Economic Sustainability

Community Intent

Any commercial activity around the software should, in part, further the sustainability of the community. The potential for economic benefit is available to all members of the community equally.


This project is directly sustained through a donation model. Donations can be made through [DONATION SYSTEM]. Further details can be found in the [DONATION POLICY].

Last modified August 30, 2019: Grammar fix in social contract. (#128) (ef8f9d9)