Re: Call for OPW project ideas

Hi Benjamin,

You raise an interesting point.

Back when I was freelancing as an audio engineer I used to pay for this kind of cover myself and it costed around £130 a year for an individual. The work I do for my charity (Scottish based) is covered by the charity as are our disclosures (for working with vulnerable people in the UK a disclosure of any criminal convictions is required by law here).

I think it's fair to assume volunteers can't really afford to pay individual liability cover for volunteer work and perhaps that they should not be asked to pay for it either since they are making valuable regular contributions. Perhaps projects (including GNOME) involved in OPW (or generally, for that matter) should be asked consider covering all their card carrying members with liability cover to protect their members as they carry out volunteer work?


On Mon, Nov 3, 2014 at 9:46 PM, Benjamin Berg <benjamin sipsolutions net> wrote:

On Sa, 2014-09-27 at 11:45 -0400, Marina Zhurakhinskaya wrote:
> Yes. The legal liability is only for gross negligence, recklessness or
> intentional wrongdoing. This is covered on

OK, I am very late to the thread, but I did read trough the contracts
and I do have some concerns.

As I understand it, the whole point is to protect all parties involved
from lawsuits. However, the contract seems to be biased a lot toward
GNOME, and I am not sure it protects the mentors properly. It also seems
that there may be liabilities attached to being a mentor, and I do think
that the foundation should protect everyone involved (i.e. trough
insurance policy and if necessary using the contracts).

Some notes about what I would expect and how I read the current
      * If someone starts a civil lawsuit against me, I do want my local
        jurisdiction to apply. I have no way of properly defending
        myself if a US court is responsible. I do understand that the
        foundation does not want to be sued outside the country it is
        based, but the same is true for everyone involved.
      * Many mentors may not have their own insurance which protects
        them in the case of negligence. I would hope that the foundation
        ensures that everyone is protected (personally I do have an
        insurance that should cover it).
      * Does one even need a written contract for gross negligence? I
        have little clue about laws (even less so about US laws), but I
        would have thought it pretty much impossible to sue the
        foundation directly. (I guess Bradley answered this by saying
        that it is required as otherwise *both* GNOME and the mentor
        might be liable.)
      * Reading the contract I have the feeling that I would be fully
        liable as a mentor. And I even explicitly state in the contract
        that I have to answer in a timely manner. So right now the
        contract does look to me like it is primarily designed to
        protect the foundation (which is good), but to me it seems like
        it may not properly protect the other parties involved. (i.e.
        for mentors “Mentoring Activities” says I have to get work done;
        then “Relationship of Parties” says that I am not an agent of
        the foundation and in “Limitation of Liability” “GNOME, its
        officers, directors, employees, or suppliers” are deemed not to
        be liable. It does sound to me like this does not restrict the
        liability of the mentor in any way.

As an example corner case. A student does not finish the internship
successfully and claims it is the mentors fault (because they did not
answer in a timely manner, or similar). Can the student sue the mentor
or the foundation for damages (i.e. the stipend, or even a much larger

I am aware that the whole point of the contract is to ensure that the
risk of a civil lawsuit is minimized for everyone involved. However,
right now I would be very reluctant to sign this contract without some
further explanations.


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