On its own, Godot has no legal status. Godot exists as a member project of the Software Freedom Conservancy (SFC). The SFC provides a home and infrastructure for Free, Libre, and Open Source Software (FLOSS) projects by aggregating the work necessary for running a non-profit organization including accounting and legal compliance. For more information about what the SFC provides, please refer to their website.
As no company is behind Godot, it can't be sold or purchased by another company.
While the SFC provides the corporate infrastructure to support the Godot project, it doesn't make decisions for the project. Instead it provides a set of rules for how the member projects operate and provides financial oversight to make sure that money is spent in a responsible way that advances the project and fits with Conservancy's 501(c)(3) mission to promote, advance, and defend software freedom. Each member project has a Project Leadership Committee that instructs the SFC on how to spend that project's funding.
The Project Leadership Committee
The Project Leadership Committee (PLC) is responsible for making all funding and institutional decisions for the Godot project. The PLC is made of the project founders (Ariel Manzur and Juan Linietsky) as well as trusted contributors and community members. As spaces open up on the PLC, current members may reach out to contributors and community members with a proven track record and deep understanding of the project and ask them to join.
The PLC must be made of a balance of contributors with technical expertise, and community members who bring the perspective of the community at large. The PLC is subject to rules set by the Software Freedom Conservancy. For more information about the PLC's policies please refer to the Software Freedom Conservancy's project policies.
The PLC currently consists of the following members:
- Ariel Manzur — firstname.lastname@example.org
- Bastiaan Olij — email@example.com
- George Marques — firstname.lastname@example.org
- Hein-Pieter van Braam-Stewart — email@example.com
- Ilaria Cislaghi — firstname.lastname@example.org
- Juan Linietsky — email@example.com
- Julian Murgia — firstname.lastname@example.org
- Rémi Verschelde — email@example.com
The PLC has enlisted the help of its most trusted and veteran contributors whom they call the advisors. The advisors are consulted on usage of funds as well as institutional matters. It is important to note, however, that while the advice of the advisory panel is weighed heavily, the final authority on these matters remains with the PLC. In practice, the PLC rarely makes an important decision without at least discussing it with the advisors first.
Like the PLC, contributors do not apply to become advisors. Instead the process of joining the advisors group is organic; trusted contributors may be asked to join after showing dedication, expertise, and leadership within the Godot community. As a result, the advisors are a diverse group of individuals with expertise in all areas of Godot development.
All donations and sponsorships go directly to the SFC. The Godot PLC makes all decisions on how the funds are used, following rules established by Software Freedom Conservancy. These rules dictate that funding can only be used for the benefit of the project. Usage of funds generally includes:
- Hiring contributors
- Organizing events
- Reimbursements for travelling to events
- Purchasing hardware required for contributors to work on Godot
While the exact costs spent remain private, we do our best to publish how much we get and how much we spend. All funding decisions are ultimately approved by the Software Freedom Conservancy which has strict (but reasonable) limits on spending, hourly rates, and reimbursements. As such, no one hired receives more than industry standard rates.
Technical decisions are made by Area Owners and the project leaders. Godot has the following established roles:
- Juan Linietsky — Technical and Project Lead
- Rémi Verschelde — Project Manager
The project leaders have final say on all code merges. In theory, this means the leaders will have the final say when maintainers cannot agree. In practice, this authority rarely needs to be invoked because decisions are made by maintainers in consultation with the community.
Teams and area owners
Teams are groups of contributors interested in a specific area of the engine. Teams provide a way for contributors to have focused discussions with other people with similar expertise and interests. The opinion and expertise of team members is valued in discussions, but ultimately the authority over an area of the engine belongs solely to the area owner and the project leadership. Area owners are entrusted with final say for code merges in their areas. Area owners are trusted contributors who are chosen by the project leadership and have shown knowledge of the specific area of the engine and the engine's philosophy as a whole.
Teams have not been formally announced yet, but a list will be published in the future.
In practice, area owners aim for consensus among contributors, especially among the relevant team. The "rule of thumb" is to not merge code if significant disputes exist over a change. However the final decision still remains with the area owner. The Godot project strives for rich, public, technical discussions where anyone can contribute and agree on the way to move forward. Additionally, the leadership and area owners consult with other contributors and the community as much as possible every time new features and improvements are planned.
We strive to make our relationship with the community as symbiotic as possible within the limits of feasibility. The Godot community is made up of users, contributors, maintainers, and project leadership. Godot exists because its community trusts the work we do, so we try to entrust the community with deciding the general direction of the project as much and as openly as possible. This is how we see the process as community-driven:
- Open development: All development (code that makes it into the engine, docs, website, etc) is made via Pull Requests. They are open for anyone to see, review and comment on. From the leadership to the new contributors, everyone is required to create them in order for their work to be included. Pull Requests are approved and merged by the respective area maintainers while, again, always striving to promote agreement before moving forward. All improvements to the engine are made through the Pull Requests of community members.
- Open discussion: Before doing any significant amount of work, we encourage maintainers, contributors, and community to open and discuss features and proposals in the Godot proposals repository. This allows all contributors to have a much better understanding of how users expect the new feature to be used. Because the primary aim of Godot is to produce a useful tool, we ask those who open proposals to discuss real-world use cases based on problems they are having with their current projects. This allows maintainers and contributors to have a much more "down to earth" understanding of user's requirements. This philosophy is best explained in the engine contributor guidelines.
- Community-minded: The Godot project is developed by and for the community. No corporate entity exists behind Godot that prioritizes one feature over another. Priorities are set by project leadership and area maintainers based on the feedback of the community in bug reports, proposals, and discussions in the various community channels. Ultimately, it is the community that determines the direction of the project.
Every improvement to the engine, whether it is a feature or bug fix, is driven forward by Godot's community of contributors, users, maintainers, and leadership. Godot wouldn't exist in its current form without the countless contributions it receives from community members every day.