So you are re­spon­si­ble for some ‘free and open’ project or ef­fort that is in the pub­lic in­ter­est. This could be free soft­ware/open source, open hard­ware, open sci­ence, open con­tent, etceter­a. With open, we mean that you are shar­ing not just the fi­nal end re­sult as some­thing im­mutable, but you’ve made it part of the ‘Com­mon­s’ by ex­plic­it­ly al­low­ing any­one to build and ex­tend on what you’ve cre­at­ed. In legal terms this is nor­mal­ly done through a ‘li­cense’, and each in­cre­men­tal au­thor ac­tu­al­ly needs to li­cense his or her part.

How­ev­er, once dif­fer­ent peo­ple start con­tribut­ing, man­ag­ing who can li­cense what be­comes cum­ber­some - es­pe­cial­ly if you need to make up­grades to a li­cense. Mix in the need to col­lec­tive­ly raise ­funds for pro­mo­tion, de­vel­op­ment and main­te­nance, and you’ve just ex­pe­ri­enced why peo­ple that are in­volved with larg­er projects some­times feel vic­tim to their own suc­cess. None of this mat­ters when a project is young, but as soon as it is about to out­grow the orig­i­nal cre­ator it be­comes ur­gent - there is a win­dow of op­por­tu­ni­ty for quick and ef­fec­tive re­pair which slow­ly starts to close once you’ve passed a cer­tain s­cale, The crit­i­cal fase of scale up is where we aim to help out.

0) Orientation phase

You’ve in­formed your­self about the pos­si­bil­i­ties and re­quire­ments of ­par­tic­i­pa­tion in [The Com­mons Con­ser­van­cy]. Prob­a­bly you are busy ­do­ing so now. Read our mis­sion, and see if you agree with it. If y­ou are in­ter­est­ed in the le­gal as­pect­s, feel free to take some time ­to read a few of our reg­u­la­tions from the DRACC or check the high­ lev­el sum­ma­ry of our or­gan­i­sa­tion. Take a look at one of the Pro­grammes in a lit­tle more de­tail to get ac­quaint­ed. And if you have ques­tion­s, feel free to con­tact us.

1) Initiation phase

Pre­sum­ing you are still in­ter­est­ed, you no­ti­fy us of your in­ten­tion ­to join [The Com­mons Con­ser­van­cy]. We will do a quick check at our end (whether or not the ef­fort qual­i­fies), and if all is well we send you a no­tice of el­i­gi­bil­i­ty. The project you rep­re­sent ap­points a quar­ter­mas­ter (a fan­cy word for some­one that is go­ing to be work­ing with us to pre­pare for sub­se­quent adop­tion as a Pro­gramme by [The ­Com­mons Con­ser­van­cy]. This could be you, or an­oth­er per­son ad­e­quate­ly ­man­dat­ed by you and the rest of the team. From our end, we ap­point a case of­fi­cer to as­sist in align­ing the scope of the Pro­gramme as well as se­lect­ing the most suit­able gov­er­nance mod­el if you are stil­l un­de­cid­ed.

2) Setup phase

The pro­posed mis­sion and found­ing statutes of the Pro­gramme are de­fined in­ ­con­for­mance with our mis­sion and ap­proach, ei­ther based on an ex­ist­ing tem­plate or writ­ten by you. You can take a look at the statutes of File­Sender, one of our Pro­grammes, as an ex­am­ple.

All Pro­gramme of­fi­cials that need to be for­mal­ly af­fil­i­at­ed with the Pro­gramme in­side [The Com­mons Con­ser­van­cy] at the point of its launch (dig­i­tal­ly) sign a copy of the found­ing statutes which in­cludes our Pledge) which ba­si­cal­ly means you share our ideas and agree to be­have nor­mal­ly (we have a Code of Con­duct which is based up­on IEEE’s in­ter­na­tion­al­ly agreed up­on pro­fes­sion­al ethic­s).

3) Operational phase

Once all the sig­na­tures are there, we for­mal­ly ap­prove the pro­posed Pro­gramme statutes and of­fi­cial­ly es­tab­lish the Pro­gramme. These ini­tial statutes of the Pro­gramme are pub­lished in the DRACC se­ries, at which point they en­ter in­to ef­fec­t. The Pro­gramme is now ful­ly op­er­a­tional:

  • We will now ac­­cept do­­na­­tions of in­­­tan­gi­ble as­sets — ­­such as copy­­right, trade mark­s, patents, databas­es, in­­te­­grat­ed cir­cuit lay­out de­sign and the like — on be­half of your Pro­­gramme.

  • You run the Pro­­gramme ac­­cord­ing to the Pro­­gramme Statutes, ­­fol­low­ing the pro­ce­­dure out­­­lined in DRACC De­­ci­­sion han­dling pro­ce­­dure.

  • Ac­cess is grant­ed to rel­e­­vant fa­­cil­i­ties and ser­vices of [The Com­­mon­s ­­Con­ser­­van­­cy] and its part­n­ers. [The Com­­mons Con­ser­­van­­cy] has for in­­s­tance signed a Mem­o­ran­­dum of Un­der­­s­tand­ing with NL­net foun­­da­­tion, a not-­­for-prof­it recog­nised as “Al­ge­meen Nut Beogende In­­stelling” (pub­­lic ben­e­­fit by the Nether­­lands tax au­thor­i­ties.

    Un­der the pro­vi­­sions of that Mem­o­ran­­dum of Un­der­­s­tand­ing a the­­mat­ic ­­fund will be au­­to­­mat­i­­cal­­ly es­­tab­lished for all el­i­gi­ble Pro­­grammes up­­on en­ter­ing [The Com­­mons Con­ser­­van­­cy], in­­s­tan­t­­ly al­low­ing your Pro­­gramme to re­­ceive tax-d­e­­ductible fi­­nan­­cial do­­na­­tions and do ­­tax-friend­­ly out­­­go­ing do­­na­­tion­s.

    If you have spe­­cif­ic need­s, just ask the Board of [The Com­­mon­s ­­Con­ser­­van­­cy]. They can help, for in­­s­tance to sign tai­lored a­­gree­­ments on your be­half.

4) Graduation phase (optional)

As time pass­es, your Pro­gramme may be so suc­cess­ful that you wish to estab­lish your own foun­da­tion or join an­oth­er not-­for-prof­it legal um­brel­la. You can re­quest the trans­fer of your in­tan­gi­ble as­sets — such as copy­right, trade mark­s, patents, ­databas­es, in­te­grat­ed cir­cuit lay­out de­sign and the like — ac­cord­ing ­to the pro­ce­dure laid out in DRACC “Grad­u­a­tion“.

Ob­vi­ous­ly you need to take in­to ac­count any pro­vi­sions that have made in the Pro­gramme Statutes re­gard­ing the pos­si­bil­i­ty of and con­di­tion­s ­for such a trans­fer.

The above means (more or less) that you are free to leave at any point un­con­di­tion­al­ly. How­ev­er, you are in­vit­ed to leave a clone (dig­i­tal copy) of the as­sets in­volved with us for emer­gen­cy pur­pos­es - this al­low us to res­cue your code even decades from now. With­out e­nough right­s, we can­not step in when the host threat­ens to go down per­ma­nent­ly. The clone will au­to­mat­i­cal­ly en­ter the Hi­ber­na­tion phase (see be­low), un­less oth­er pro­vi­sions are made through the Pro­gramme statutes or reg­u­la­tion­s.

5) Hibernation phase (optional)

If the ap­point­ed gov­er­nance body of a Pro­gramme has re­tired or — for what­ev­er rea­son — is no longer re­spond­ing to of­fi­cial re­quests from our Board­ with­in the re­quired time­frame, it is up to the com­mu­ni­ty to ­take the nec­es­sary ac­tions to re­pop­u­late through the pro­ce­dure as estab­lished in its own statutes (e.g. an elec­tion, div­ina­tion, a lot­tery or oth­er mean­s).

If the Pro­gramme is still un­able to ap­point the min­i­mum amount of of­fi­cials with­in three month­s, the Pro­gramme will go in­to Hi­ber­na­tion un­less oth­er pro­vi­sions were made in the reg­u­la­tions of the Pro­gramme. As­sets held by us on be­half of a Pro­gramme are strict­ly han­dled ac­cord­ing to the pro­ce­dure de­fined in DRACC Hi­ber­na­tion.

6) Revival, forking and termination phase (optional)

Tak­ing in­to ac­count any for­mal vi­sions you/the Pro­gramme it­self have on the top­ic, a Pro­gramme MAY be re­vived or forked (or not). ‘Re­vival’ shall mean that a new Pro­gramme is es­tab­lished ac­cord­ing to the pro­ce­dure above, but with one dif­fer­ence: en­ters the Set­up Phase with­ the pre­vi­ous statutes and reg­u­la­tions of the Pro­gramme it wish­es to in­her­it.

There are many paths and ap­proach­es to reach ones goal­s, and some­times the ­com­mu­ni­ty with­in a Pro­gramme needs to split up to walk al­ter­na­tive path­s. A Pro­gramme it­self set con­di­tions re­gard­ing the pos­si­bil­i­ties and con­di­tion­s of fork­ing and re­vival, in line with the pro­ce­dure de­fined in DRACC Hi­ber­na­tion.