[FFmpeg-devel] Sponsoring and generating money in general (IRC meeting follow-up)

Robert Krüger krueger at lesspain.de
Wed Jan 15 16:27:08 CET 2014

On Tue, Jan 14, 2014 at 6:09 PM, Peter B. <pb at das-werkstatt.com> wrote:
> Quoting Stefano Sabatini <stefasab at gmail.com>:
>> Funding development is a bit more complicated. As I wrote during the
>> meeting, if one or more companies/individuals want a feature and they
>> do a donation, we can't guarantee that the expense will be approved by
>> SPI, so for such form of sponsoring maybe some different system is
>> needed, for example a crowdfunding/bounty platform.
> For individuals, I think that crowdfunding/bounty could be a good thing to
> try. At the "ardour" project [1] for example, I saw that the simple display
> of ongoing "feature requests paid-by-bounty", and the currently collected
> amount seemed to raise awareness among users that these things could be paid
> for. I guess this transparency might have encouraged users to think about
> paying development improvements. Maybe?
> However, there is a huge difference between individuals and companies when
> requesting a paid development: I've had the concrete case already that a
> company refused to pay ffmpeg improvements, because they wanted/had to book
> that as proper expense - not as donation.

I was hoping that using a platform like bountysource would help here
but I haven't really done any research yet, what the actual legal
situation is. I contacted them to find out.

> I'm not too familiar with taxation laws, but companies seem to require some
> legal entity to "make the deal with".

Yes, it is no problem if there is just one person billing them but it
gets complicated when more than one person has to work to complete the
task they pay for. What makes it even more difficult is the fact that
donations are in some countries (like germany) limited as far as the
amount is concerned that you can declare as company expenditures that
matter for taxes (so paying for the task in the form of a donation
makes this more expensive for the company). So AFAIK the situation
(IANAL) is this:
1) One dev offers to implement something for money for one company -
Works, as long as the dev does not have a problem with writing an
invoice for that company.
2) Two devs (A and B) offer to implement something for money for one
company (C) - Works but legally is two contracts, one between A and C
and one between B and C, which is more invoices, paperwork and gets
messy if something goes wrong as there is likely to be a situation
where it is unclear, who is legally responsible for what, normally not
desirable for C
3) One dev (A) offers to implement something for money for two
companies (C and D) who share the same goal - Again, legally two
contracts and potentially messy if there is not a third party in there
like a crowd-funding platform defining rules (that they had checked by
their lawyers)
4) Two devs (A and B) offer to implement something for money for two
companies (C and D) who share the same goal - You can imagine, all
potential problems combined

If there was an organization on the part of ffmpeg that was allowed to
pay developers and serve as the contracting party for companies that
want to have something done, all this would be solved (as said
earlier, I don't see that this is happening soon), otherwise for
everything but scenario 1 some other intermediary like a crowd-funding
platform is likely to be required to fulfill the requirements by all
other parties.

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