c/o Zope Corporation
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Python is a widely used computer programming language. It is made available to the public free of charge by the volunteers who created and maintain it. Python has been adopted by users throughout the world. It has been adopted by many individuals and organizations because it costs nothing and has many technical merits; Python’s users include educators in high schools and universities, and many government organizations, including NASA and national laboratories such as LANL and LLNL.
The purpose of the Python Software Foundation (PSF) is to guarantee that Python remains freely available to the public and that the public has access to educational materials and scientific literature that furthers their use of Python.
The PSF has an educational and scientific mission. It will, for example, organize conferences and produce and distribute training materials. And it will conduct research in computer programming that will ensure that Python remains a valuable language for programmers of all sorts—from students writing their first programs to scientists studying global warming.
Because there is no charge for obtaining Python, and no registration required, it is difficult to estimate the number of users worldwide. There are at least hundreds of thousands, from individuals to government agencies, universities, and private industry. More than 500 individuals have contributed code and documentation improvements back to the Python project.
The Python Software Foundation serves as the home for continued Python development under the open source model. As Python’s popularity has grown, the scope of Python-related needs has also grown. For example,
· Because Python is well-suited as a teaching language, there is increasing demand for educational materials. The PSF will work with educators to produce such materials, under the open source distribution model.
· Because Python is aimed more at being friendly to humans than to machines, making Python run quickly on current machines benefits from research in several areas of computer science. The practical problems faced by Python here are common to many “highly dynamic” languages and software systems, and we expect such systems to become increasingly important as computer applications become more human-centric. The PSF will fund and conduct public-interest research in these areas.
The PSF plans these specific activities:
Since its inception, the PSF has produced the core Python software distribution, made available to the public free of charge primarily via the Python website. Mirrors of the Python website are maintained by volunteers around the world, and Python is also available without charge from them. The Python license also allows free redistribtion of Python, and of derivative works, and some book publishers include copies of the Python distribution in CD-ROMs sold with their books. The Python distribution includes the Python language itself, its standard libraries and documentation, installers, full source code, educational materials, and assorted tools and applications. All materials are made available as open source. The PSF solicits and manages contributions to the Python code base, and may perform these services on behalf of other open source Python-related code bases. The work is done mostly by the PSF members, but there are also many non-member contributors.
The PSF intends to organize conferences for Python users and developers, in furtherance of the foundation’s educational mission. These conferences will consist of technical sessions for discussion of current research and technical work, tutorials, and so on.
We intend to hold two yearly conferences: one low-cost conference, starting in January 2003, and a more expensive one, co-located and in cooperation with the O’Reilly Open Source Convention (OSCON), starting July 2003. The second conference will be run by O’Reilly and only require a minor PSF effort: PSF members will serve on the program committee.
The first conference will be run in association with YAS (Yet Another Society, who organize similar conferences for the Perl community), and require the PSF to take a significant financial risk. Tentative plans are to hold the conference at a university that makes facilities available at low cost. Volunteers to run this conference would come from the PSF membership, from YAS, and from the larger Python community.
Because the cost of attending the OSCON conference is generally out of reach of all save professional programmers and researchers, a low-cost conference is important to serve the foundation’s educational mission to the general public.
Since its inception, the PSF has maintained a website (http://www.python.org) in the public interest for current and prospective users of Python. The website provides downloads, documentation, educational information, news, email forums, and so on, all for free. The work is done mostly by PSF members; there are also some non-member volunteers.
Starting in 2003, the PSF intends to provide scholarships to university students who do research or teaching related to Python, or want to develop teaching materials that use Python, in furtherance of the scientific and educational goals of the foundation. The board will form a scholarship committee to solicit and review scholarship proposals.
Starting in 2003, the PSF intends to provide grants to Python-related projects that would benefit the general public. The board will form a grant committee to solicit and review grant proposals.
Starting in the second half of 2003, the PSF intends to engage in research that advances understanding of programming language implementation and design, as well as research into programming education and tools for such education. The board will form a research committee to identify areas where the PSF could make a difference and apply for government grants to carry out the research. The research will be carried out by qualified PSF members or other qualified researchers.
One potential area of interest is computer literacy. Research would develop a new programming curriculum and programming tools that enable non-programmers to effectively create and modify computer software. A previous effort in this area was lead by Guido van Rossum, PSF president, and supported by a grant from the U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA).
The PSF has worked together with educators to produce educational materials. Python is well-suited for teaching in secondary schools and universities, and a few entry-level textbooks have been written. The PSF will work with educators to develop and enhance a curriculum, textbooks, and example programs, and provide support for educators who want to adopt them.
As an example, in spring 2001 the PSF provided funding for a video project executed by students at Yorktown High School in Arlington (http://www.ibiblio.org/obp/pyBiblio/pythonvideo.php). The board will work with educators and volunteers in the community as opportunities present themselves.
The PSF is negotiating with prior holders of intellectual property (IP) rights (copyrights, trademarks) related to Python for transfer of those rights to the PSF. In particular, we are interested in acquiring the rights in Python owned by CNRI and BeOpen. The PSF is also in the process of creating legal agreements with contributors to the Python code base. The goal of these activities is to hold the IP of Python in the public interest, so that it will always be freely available as open source to the general public. The negotiations started in March 2002, and are carried out by the previous and the current president of the PSF. The work on contributor agreements started in early 2002 and is being carried out by a committee consisting of PSF directors.
The PSF intends to solicit contributions from individuals and organizations to fund the activities of the PSF. The fundraising activities have just started, and are carried out by a Public Support Committee formed by a board member and volunteers from the PSF membership.
The PSF has three sources of financial support:
See Part II, question 11, for more about sponsor members. Sponsors have supplied 100% of PSF funding to date. When our public support campaign begins, we expect that to fall to 20-30%.
Many (hundreds) in the Python community have expressed willingness to contribute money to the PSF, at approximately a $50 per person per year level. We expect this to become the major source of PSF funding, 40-60%.
The PSF has neither applied for nor received grants to date. We expect grants to become 20-30% of PSF funding.
In addition to cash contributions, Python benefits from many hundreds of individual contributions of code and documentation, which the PSF organizes and releases back to the general public as part of the Python distribution. In most cases an individual programmer solves a relatively small problem, and contributes a small amount of code back to the Python project. In some cases a team of programmers solves a major problem for their employer, and they and their employer agree to donate the code back to the Python project. Such "in-kind contributions" are very common in open source projects, and it is difficult to place a monetary value on them. They are vital to the health of an open source project, as what the PSF is able to distribute is what people have freely given.
To date, the PSF has solicited sponsors from contacts in the Python community known to the PSF members, directors and officers. The PSF has formed a Public Support Committee (PSC) to solicit broad public support. The PSC has not yet prepared written materials, and is currently in the process of trying to understand how to comply with relevant national and international laws. The PSC intends to set up a web page with a web-based “click here to contribute” button, and will publicize this page via email to mailing lists and newsgroups for Python users. The PSF does not intend to engage professional fundraisers.
Guido van Rossum, 11318 Dockside Circle, Reston, VA 20191
Jeremy Hylton, c/o Zope Corporation,
513 Prince Edward St., Fredericksburg, VA 22401
Tim Peters, c/o Zope Corporation,
513 Prince Edward St., Fredericksburg, VA 22401
Martin von Löwis, Wassermannstr. 71, D-12489 Berlin, Germany
Marc-Andre Lemburg, Duesselstr. 25, D-40219 Duesseldorf, Germany
David Ascher, 3020 West 5th Ave, Vancouver, BC, Canada, V6K 1T9
Thomas Wouters, Kantershof 5, 1104 GA Amsterdam, The Netherlands
Chairman and President: Guido van Rossum, see above
Secretary and Treasurer: Jeremy Hylton, see above
The PSF does not hold title to any physical assets. The PSF owns the primary copyright on Python work for the years 2001 and beyond, however parts of Python are copyrighted by several other parties before those years. One of the goals of the foundation is to obtain those rights, to hold in the public interest.
The PSF has two classes of membership. Regular members pay no fees or dues, and are nominated and elected by the existing members in recognition of their contributions to the Python community. Sponsor members pay a yearly sponsorship fee, and are also nominated and elected by the membership. The sponsor fee is decided by the sponsors themselves, collectively, in accordance with the bylaws, and is currently $2000 per year.
The PSF does not actively try to grow the regular membership. PSF members, officers and directors use their personal contacts to attract additional sponsors.
Regular members do not have benefits (apart from having their name listed on the website). Sponsor members have their name and logo listed on the website, with a link to the sponsor’s website.
c/o Zope Corporation
513 Prince Edward St.
Fredericksburg VA 22401-5742
Arlington (VA) Public Schools
produce student video