Has OSMF considered being a Community Benefit Society?

This is just a quick request for info:

Has OSMF ever considered registering as a a ‘Community Benefit Society’?

This is a UK legal form that sits somewhere between ‘company’ and ‘charity’: Brief background info here (tho NB no registration fees now).

This isn’t the same as a Community Interest Company/CIC: it’s registered under non-company legislation.

My Google search <site:lists.openstreetmap.org “Community Benefit Society”> returned no hits - any ideas? Thanks,

Edward / eteb3

Given the current structure I 'd expect that only a CIC would be relevant. There were long discussions regarding what form OSM-UK would be incorporated as, and in the end we went with CIC.

Brexit makes lots of complications for OSMF (including GDPR, the EU’s database directive etc) which are unresolvable as now. It may be that OSMF will feel obligated in the future to change its country of incorporation to another EU state. So for now this question is moot.

If the OSMF was incorporating now it would clearly choose one of the new UK incorporation forms that exist since a couple of years, but there would be no advantage to changing at this point in time.

The only thing that has seriously been considered is changing to a charity, however that would be rather complex, if the OSMF would even be eligible for charity status to start with. That would at least have tax benefits over the current state which neither CIS nor CIC have.

Being a charity & form of incorporation can be distinct. BSBI is both a charity (twice) & a CLG. I’m a little surprised it’s not a charity in Ireland as well. Bromley House Library likewise.

I think in general the company structure is more appropriate for larger entities, but it’s definitely a judgement call. However the Fell & Rock went down the “registered society” route a few years ago (although IIRC as a Provident Society. In their case I think it was protecting themselves from asset stripping as they have a number of well-placed properties in the Lake District.

Just reviving this thread after recent discussions on the list-servs re takeover. Also because any move overseas would an be opportunity to think about corporate forms again, including entrenched provisions in the articles (which are no longer a possibility - though they may well have been considered at the beginning?).

@SK53 on your point about asset-stripping at Fell and Rock: is your read that this is the concern among OSMF members concerned about a takeover?

@Simon Poole, I don’t see that conversion to one of the newer forms at this stage would be difficult (though it would be lengthy). There’s provision made for this in the legislation. Any of the ‘asset-locked’ forms (CIC, charity, Community Benefit Society) would be possible.

(P.S. Community Benefit Society is the newish name for one of the two types of Industrial and Provident Society, the other being a co-op. The difference between them and companies, according to the regulator, is that they are understood to be associations of people, not aggregations of capital. The IPS name has gone, but they’re substantially the same.)

With the FRCC I merely wanted to point out that asset locking was particularly important for them in a way that I doubt would be applicable to OSMF, i.e., their choice was influenced by factors probably not applicable in our case. The FRCC own 4 largish properties & 3 cottages in highly desirable location in the Lakes (probably with a floor value of half-a-million each) plus a former police house near Fort William. OSMF own computers which it makes sense to depreciate over 2-3 years.


Does the database itself constitute a valuable asset that might be stripped? Or not, if it’s got such an open licence?

(As I understand it, the database has no “book value”, because IP rights appear in company accounts at cost - which in this case is zero, as the edits are all donated. But there seems to be great concern over takeover so I’m wondering if there’s a monetary value here?)

Wider than this particular question, I’m trying to discover in general terms what the takeover fears are. That may be a discussion for the lists, since that’s where I’ve seen all the noise on this.