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Licensing and compliance manager Full-time

Published at 2022-04-28 - Viewed: 1808 times - Free Software Foundation in United States

The Free Software Foundation (FSF), a Massachusetts 501©(3) charity with a worldwide mission to protect computer user freedom, seeks a motivated and talented Boston-based individual to be our full-time licensing and compliance manager.


This position, reporting to the executive director, works as a critical member of our licensing and compliance team to protect and promote the use of freely licensed works of software and documentation. For over twenty years, the FSF’s Licensing & Compliance Lab has been the preeminent community resource for free licensing. From principled enforcement of the GNU General Public License (GPL), to certifying software and devices as respectful of user freedom, to the writing and distribution of licensing-related educational materials, the team does work vital for the free software movement.

For the licensing and compliance manager position, we are looking for a skilled writer, thorough thinker, and detail-oriented project manager who has a comprehensive understanding of free software copyright licenses, and a solid understanding of how contemporary software is written, compiled, and distributed. Neither a law degree nor a computer science degree is required, but either (or both) would be a plus. Ideal candidates will have also given public presentations on issues related to licensing and copyleft.

Examples of job responsibilities include, but are not limited to:

  • Leading software compliance efforts, from evaluating violation reports to driving specific enforcement cases in line with our Principles of Community-Oriented GPL Enforcement (in coordination with FSF legal counsel as needed);
  • Leading the Respects Your Freedom (RYF) program, including evaluating product applications, maintaining relations with RYF vendors, and improving and expanding the program itself;
  • Managing and scaling the FSF’s offering of educational licensing events both online and in-person, including Continuing Legal Education (CLE) classes;
  • Become a lead voice in, and steward for, the FSF’s license committee, helping to evaluate licenses for addition to the FSF’s license list, and to decide other licensing policy questions;
  • Carry out public advocacy for the Foundation’s license policy. Serve as an internal and external expert on the GPL, copyleft, and free software compliance by responding to current license/copyleft topics in the news potentially relevant to the FSF’s work, writing in-depth articles, speaking at conferences, and conducting training;
  • Develop new FSF licensing resources and maintain existing ones, like the list of fully free GNU/Linux distributions;
  • Assist in bringing a focus on licensing to organization-wide projects, like our major fundraising activities and the annual LibrePlanet conference;
  • Oversee the administration of the Free Software Directory (FSD) by coordinating with volunteers.
  • Work with the copyright and licensing associate to process licensing questions and copyright documentation in a timely fashion; and
  • Manage, mentor, and grow the FSF’s active team of licensing volunteers and interns.

Ideal candidates are ones with demonstrable knowledge of free software licensing and related issues, with at least three to five years of relevant work experience. Because the FSF works globally and seeks to have our materials distributed in as many languages as possible, multilingual candidates will have an advantage. With our small staff, each person makes a clear contribution. We work hard, but offer a humane and fun work environment at an office located in the heart of downtown Boston, with support for some remote working as well. The FSF is a mature but growing organization that provides great potential for advancement; existing staff get the first chance at any new job openings.

Benefits and salary

This job is a union position that must be worked primarily on-site at the FSF’s downtown Boston office. The salary is fixed at $68,494/year and is non-negotiable. Other benefits include:

  • fully subsidized individual or family health coverage through Blue Cross Blue Shield;
  • partially subsidized dental plan;
  • health care expense reimbursement;
  • yearly cost-of-living pay increases based on government guidelines;
  • four weeks of paid vacation annually;
  • seventeen paid holidays annually;
  • weekly remote work allowance (expanded during the pandemic);
  • public transit commuting cost reimbursement;
  • 403(b) program with employer match;
  • ergonomics budget;
  • relocation (to Boston area) expense reimbursement;
  • conference travel and professional development opportunities; and
  • potential for an annual collective performance bonus.

Application Instructions

Applications must be submitted via email to The email must contain the subject line “Licensing and compliance manager.” A complete application should include:

  • cover letter;
  • resume; and
  • three recent work samples related to free software licensing issues. (We suggest to submit at least one writing sample, and one public talk.)

All materials must be in a free format. Email submissions that do not follow these instructions will probably be overlooked. No phone calls, please.

Applications will be reviewed on a rolling basis until the position is filled.

The FSF is an equal opportunity employer and will not discriminate against any employee or application for employment on the basis of race, color, marital status, religion, age, sex, sexual orientation, national origin, handicap, or any other legally protected status recognized by federal, state or local law. We value diversity in our workplace.

About the Free Software Foundation

The Free Software Foundation, founded in 1985, is dedicated to promoting computer users’ right to use, study, copy, modify, and redistribute computer programs. The FSF promotes the development and use of free (as in freedom) software — particularly the GNU operating system and its GNU/Linux variants — and free documentation for free software. The FSF also helps to spread awareness of the ethical and political issues of freedom in the use of software, and its Web sites, located at and, are an important source of information about GNU/Linux. Donations to support the FSF’s work can be made at We are based in Boston, MA, USA.

More information about the FSF, as well as important information for journalists and publishers, is at

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