[Foundation-l] Blackout at Italian Wikipedia

Phil Nash phnash at blueyonder.co.uk
Wed Oct 5 00:51:01 UTC 2011

Mark wrote:
> On 10/5/11 1:50 AM, Ryan Kaldari wrote:
>> The WMF isn't allowed to lobby for or against legislation, per our
>> 501c3 non-profit status in the US. This is not necessarily true for
>> chapters though, and definitely not true for the communities.
> Somewhat true, but not a red line. The IRS gives this wonderfully
> vague formulation: "A 501(c)(3) organization may engage in some
> lobbying, but too much lobbying activity risks loss of tax-exempt
> status".
> In addition, "organizations may conduct educational meetings, prepare
> and distribute educational materials, or otherwise consider public
> policy issues in an educational manner without jeopardizing their
> tax-exempt status". For example, perhaps, in suitable cases, Wikimedia
> could issue factual statements about proposed legislation likely to
> affect its operations, with a neutral legal analysis of if and how the
> legislation would do so.
> -Mark

I don't think that there is a distinction between "lobbying" and 
"campaigning". It cannot be assumed that a charitable organisation should 
not be able to protect its own status, because I think the law should assume 
that right. The issue is to how that is to be achieved, and by what means, 
and that is where a political dimension arises. Thus far, it is by words and 
gestures. Politicians, at a practical level, are sometimes more used to more 
physical expressions of dissent. I doubt it will come to that in this case. 
However, I would be surprised if the message did not reach its intended 
target in this instance.

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