Warning to Open Source Projects: Know Your Rights with PayPal

People who work on open source projects are clearly not motivated solely by money. However, with every project there are associated operating costs, which is just a fact of life. Many open source projects use PayPal to accept donations from grateful users who could not contribute otherwise, such as in the form of development or testing. That being said, it has come to our attention that one of our projects here, TortoiseSVN, is no longer allowed to use PayPal to accept donations for their project.

You can read all about Stefan’s ordeal, but the gist of it is that PayPal denied him access to his money, and made him promise to not solicit donations on behalf of TortoiseSVN ever again. Unfortunately, there really doesn’t seem to be a good alternative to using PayPal at this time, leaving Stefan with no choice but to accept that decision.

While the lawyers are checking with PayPal to see what can be done, we want to send out this warning that if you are using PayPal to accept donations, you need to check the restrictions for your country. Every country has its own laws with regard to tax exemption, non-profit corporation status and accepting money. To check the Acceptable Use Policy in your country, check PayPal’s Legal Agreement documentation..

We should also make it very clear that while offers the “Donate through PayPal” code for your project’s page, none of that money is funneled through us, or Geeknet, Inc. That arrangement is strictly between you and PayPal, and you are encouraged to know your rights and clarify your arrangement with them. Make sure your account is the proper type, and that donations are allowed. Most importantly, make sure you have control over your own money.

We will update when available, and in the meantime, if you can help the TortoiseSVN project, please visit the Developers Forums. Stefan and his team also have Amazon Wish Lists, if you’d prefer to show your support that way.

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