History: Mockingbird started as an all-volunteer non-profit in 1996 in order to raise money for music education for children. The original impetus was the compilation of the most accurate and literary book on Phish’s music available. We’ve done that, in three highly successful editions, as well as taken on a wide range of projects, including an album, art, special events, and branded merchandise.
Virtual: Borne from a Usenet newsgroup, and started in a mailing list, Mockingbird now incorporates a wide array of tools and media, and publishes content from Phish.net in print form, to other sites through a set of APIs, and to various mobile apps through strategic partnerships. Yet it still exists almost exclusively online, using the Internet for publicity, fundraising, all internal communications, and even to develop, produce, and distribute intellectual property.
Formal: Though the Foundation exists almost exclusively online, it is a formally recognized nonprofit, with 501(c)3 tax-exempt status from the Internal Revenue Service. Donations are thus tax-deductible, and contributions are applied to the next round of regular grants. We attempt to remain as transparent as possible, and welcome you to review these formal Foundation documents:
- 501(c)3 “Determination letter” from the IRS
- 2007 Confirmation of 501(c)3 Determination
- Articles of Incorporation
- Bylaws (last revised 4/8/19)
- FY2020 Federal 990 Tax Return
Developers: The incorporated purpose of the Foundation is the development and defense of copyrighted intellectual property (IP) about the band and its history – most importantly, a unique collection of data regarding past performances (setlists, song histories, show notes, and more.) The comprehensiveness, integrity, and consistency of that data is unmatched thanks to the daily work of hundreds of volunteers for nearly three decades (in aggregate, over 100K manhours by any conservative estimate). The data serves Phish.net, a half dozen mobile apps, and more than two dozen other websites via API.
Defenders: The Foundation is named for a character in Phish songs who retrieves a collection of “all knowledge inherent in the universe” from the evil King Wilson, who took it from the peaceful and innocent Lizards, and returns it via Colonel Forbin. We share the Gamehendge Lizards’ concern with information becoming “a deadly weapon in the hands of avarice and greed.” The Foundation’s data can thus be viewed in various formats for free through the Phish.net website, and through a set of free/open APIs. While we welcome serious inquiries about licensing that data for use in other formats (including “apps”), and have indeed so licensed the data to more than a half dozen entities, we are nonetheless (and therefore) concerned when others attempt to profit from fan-generated content without remuneration to the Foundation, react swiftly to any such attempts, and thereby actively and vigorously defend the Foundation’s ownership of this data.