Hi, my name is Radon (about
me). In my free time, I
develop free open-source software on GitHub. Previously, I just did
this as an individual because I already have a full-time job and am
only doing the open-source work for my personal enjoyment and to
benefit the programming community.
However, after a scary experience of being threatened by a former
employer, I found out
that the US legal system basically makes it so that you can’t stand up
to rich people without serious risk to your livelihood and personal
savings. After talking to a lawyer, I learned that what you’re
supposed to do as a normal open-source developer is to form a limited
conduct your work through that entity, which prevents your personal
savings from being subject to lawsuits about your open-source work.
(“Corporations are people
The company I formed is called Radian LLC and is incorporated in
California. I keep separate finances, accounts, and records for all
work on projects that are associated with the LLC in order to avoid
- Who works for you? Nobody, it’s just me.
- What are you selling? Nothing, all Radian LLC projects are free
- Are you trying to pivot into proprietary software? No, I hate it
when people do that.
- Are you going to start charging people for things? Only if the
thing I’m providing costs money to provide (e.g., a cloud hosting
service). In that case the subscription cost would reflect the AWS
- Are you making a profit? No, and if somehow that starts happening,
I’ll simply donate the profits to charity (most likely to the
- Do I still own my contributions on GitHub? Yes, you still own the
copyright for your contributions, and just (as before) have agreed
to share them under the terms of the MIT License so that others can
- How much does this cost to run? The main expense is the $800/year
minimum tax charged by California to all registered businesses.
Otherwise, expenses are pretty small and just cover things like
Google Workspace, Namecheap, AWS, etc. For the sake of transparency,
I plan to make financial records for Radian LLC publicly viewable
once I have things set up nicely.
- I don’t want to get sued. How can I set up something like this?
You should probably talk to a lawyer. But here’s the short version:
File the paperwork to register an LLC in your state (or in
Delaware), file a Statement of Information, file to get an EIN from
the IRS, get a business checking account and card to keep your
finances separate, and register separate accounts for everything
(especially email and file storage) so that nobody can claim you’re
mixing personal and business assets. Draw up and sign a contract to
transfer your personal intellectual property and copyright to the
LLC. And read this Wikipedia