[Foundation-l] Update of Foundation organization

Ray Saintonge saintonge at telus.net
Thu Mar 8 02:30:02 UTC 2007

Gregory Maxwell wrote:

>On 3/5/07, Florence Devouard <anthere at anthere.org> wrote:
>>* we wish to involve people from all over the world, not restricting
>>employees to USA only. Currently, those working "offshore" have to be
>>their own employers (they are contractants). This is not sustainable in
>>the long run, so we have to explore more international employment issues.
>First off, I'm terrified to raise this point in public because I know
>that there are people here who will scream that I'm some kind of
>nationalist bigot for bringing this up. But I think it's a very
>serious matter which demands the input and understanding of a wide
>It is my understanding that if we have true employees in a nation that
>our organization will have a legal presence in that nation. If we have
>a legal presence in that nation, we will be subject to the
>jurisdiction of that nation.
Sometimes.  In reality it depends on what aspects of that country's laws 
you are considering.  Simply having an employee leads to the question of 
what that employee's duties are.

>It would be ideal that our activities would generally be so far away
>from the ambiguous grey areas of the law that the differing legal
>behavior would not be a substantial issue for us. However, this just
>isn't the case today. We benefit substantially from detailed aspects
>of US law in the areas of libel, copyright, and privacy.
Why would this need to be an issue?  If the employee's duties relate to 
these matters that could be the case, but that is only likely to affect 
him personally.  A legal action against WMF in such other country is 
always possible, but that could also happen without an employee there.

>*Does operating the foundation with regular employees in a nation
>create a jurisdictional issue as I described?
Not usually.

>*How can we avoid this risk while maintaining the agility to hire
>useful people from any part of the world?
Every country has different laws.  It makes no sense to try to answer 
this unless you have a clear idea about which country you will be hiring 

>*What are the qualities and risks of various jurisdictions?
What do you mean by qualities?  Risks can be so varied that there can be 
no single answer.

>*How can we deal with the impact of being subject to multiple jurisdictions?
The same as we always have.

>I fear that in the worst case being directly subject to the laws of
>many nations we may find our entire method of operation (open access
>Wikis) to be too risky.
This is unfounded speculation.

To whatever extent people are employed in various countries it should be 
as contractual workers.  The laws that should be of most concern are 
those relating to employment stantards, taxation, social security and 
related matters.  My experience has been that compliance attemps from 
outside the country in these areas can involve disastrous 
misunderstandings of law.  Even within the United States the 
applications of another state's laws can be very confusing.  Remembering 
that Florida does not have a state personal income tax dealing with just 
this for out-of-state employees can be a burden.  Having employed one 
person for a position does not mean that when he eventually leaves that 
position his successor will be from the same country.  That would then 
mean reviewing this every time a new employee comes on board.


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