Title: Graduation
DRACC: 0007
Category: Regulatory
Scope: Global
Authors: Leenaars, M.A.G.J.; Šuklje, M.
Date: January 2017
Copyright: The Commons Conservancy

This doc­u­ment is part of the DRACC se­ries, see DRACC “In­tro­duc­tion to ­DRACC Se­ries” for an ex­pla­na­tion. You can re­use it un­der a “Cre­ative ­Com­mons At­tri­bu­tion 4.0 In­ter­na­tion­al” li­cense.


When a Pro­gramme and its com­mu­ni­ty op­er­ate suc­cess­ful­ly and grow in scale, ­com­plex­i­ty and am­bi­tion­s, they can reach a point at which it makes sense to estab­lish a ded­i­cat­ed le­gal en­ti­ty as a new host or­gan­i­sa­tion, in­stead of ­con­tin­u­ing as a Pro­gramme with­in [The Com­mons Con­ser­van­cy] (see “Map­ping Right­s ­to Pro­grammes” DRAC­C).

At that point an or­gan­i­sa­tion in­de­pen­dent from [The Com­mons Con­ser­van­cy] SHOULD be able to take over the le­gal cus­to­di­an­ship of in­tan­gi­ble as­sets held on be­half of a Pro­gram­me, such as in­tel­lec­tu­al prop­er­ty rights on com­put­er source ­code, URI schemes, cryp­to­graph­ic iden­ti­fier­s, data­base rights and do­main names.

[The Com­mons Con­ser­van­cy] holds a long term per­spec­tive on the avail­abil­i­ty of the tech­nolo­gies and con­tent cre­at­ed with­in its Pro­grammes. Un­less oth­er ar­range­ments have been made by a Pro­gramme in its statutes or reg­u­la­tion­s, [The ­Com­mons Con­ser­van­cy] will act as a safe­ty net when the new host or­gan­i­sa­tion as­sum­ing cus­to­di­an­ship ceas­es to ex­ist be­fore the le­gal ex­piry of it­s in­tan­gi­ble as­set­s.

This doc­u­ment de­scribes the process which MUST be fol­lowed in such a sce­nar­i­o, and which we re­fer to as Grad­u­a­tion.

[The Com­mons Con­ser­van­cy] is ded­i­cat­ed to serv­ing the pub­lic in­ter­est, and chang­ing the or­gan­i­sa­tion­al home of a large and suc­cess­ful project is not a triv­ial op­er­a­tion in many ways. A Pro­gramme MAY al­so have ex­plic­it­ly set ­con­di­tions per­tain­ing a pos­si­ble Grad­u­a­tion sce­nari­o. [The Com­mons Con­ser­van­cy] SHALL make sure that a trans­fer of cus­to­di­an­ship is han­dled in the best ­pos­si­ble way, giv­en such con­di­tion­s, its val­ues and mis­sion as well as legal and fis­cal con­di­tion­s, rev­e­lant to the Pro­gramme or [The Com­mons Con­ser­van­cy], that may ap­ply in spe­cif­ic cir­cum­stances.

[The Com­mons Con­ser­van­cy] and the ecosys­tem around it de­pend on trust that is ­giv­en by de­vel­op­ers and rights hold­ers as a pre­con­di­tion to trans­fer in­tan­gi­ble as­sets to [The Com­mons Con­ser­van­cy]. This trust is based on trans­paren­cy and re­li­a­bil­i­ty, which ex­tends to the con­di­tions and the way in which in­tan­gi­ble as­sets are hand­ed over to the new host or­gan­i­sa­tion — and in some case even back to [The Com­mons Con­ser­van­cy]. [The Com­mons Con­ser­van­cy] of­fers Pro­grammes the pos­si­bil­i­ty to leave a Hi­ber­nat­ed (see DRACC “Hiber­na­tion”) in­stance of it­self hold­ing some or all of its in­tan­gi­ble as­sets with [The Com­mon­s ­Con­ser­van­cy] as a back­up, which can be re­vived sub­ject to con­di­tions set by the Pro­gramme (in­clud­ing non-­com­pete claus­es). Note that this is op­tion­al but rec­om­mend­ed for prac­ti­cal pur­pos­es.

If a Pro­gramme wants to Grad­u­ate, its Gov­ern­ing Body MUST send a writ­ten re­quest to the Board of [The Com­mons Con­ser­van­cy] with a de­tailed de­scrip­tion of the new or­gan­i­sa­tion­al set­up it en­vi­sions (in­clud­ing the names and roles of its key of­fi­cial­s) and all the in­tan­gi­ble as­sets it re­quests to use. On­ly legal en­ti­ties with a not-­for-prof­it char­ac­ter are el­i­gi­ble to serve as a can­di­date host. If a Pro­gramme has made pro­vi­sions in its statutes or reg­u­la­tion­s re­gard­ing cer­tain in­tan­gi­ble as­sets in case of Grad­u­a­tion of the Pro­gram­me, those pro­vi­sions MUST be in­di­cat­ed in the re­quest. For a valid Grad­u­a­tion of a Pro­gramme the fol­low­ing pro­ce­dure MUST be tak­en:

  1. The Gov­ern­ing Body of the Pro­gramme SHALL ini­tate a Pub­lic Con­sul­ta­tion (see ­DRACC “Pub­lic Con­sul­ta­tion”), to which on­ly de­vel­op­ers of the Pro­gramme and the Pro­grammes it Shares as­set with, whether through As­set Shar­ing or Shared As­set Forks (see DRACC “As­set Shar­ing” and DRACC “Pro­gramme Fork­ing”, re­spec­tive­ly), are in­vit­ed.
  2. As soon as the Board of [The Com­mons Con­ser­van­cy] re­ceives the re­quest for Pub­lic Con­sul­ta­tion, and in par­al­lel to the Pub­lic Con­sul­ta­tion pro­cess, a ­copy of any and all on­line or oth­er archiev­able in­tan­gi­ble as­sets from the o­rig­i­nal Pro­gramme SHALL be archived by [The Com­mons Con­ser­van­cy] with the help of the Grad­u­at­ing Pro­gramme to serve as back­up. Where pos­si­ble, ­soft­ware nec­es­sary to main­tain said as­sets SHOULD be in­clud­ed.
  3. Be­fore mak­ing its de­ci­sion based on the Pub­lic Con­sul­ta­tion, the Board of [The Com­mons Con­ser­van­cy] SHALL iden­ti­fy any in­tan­gi­ble as­sets in­volved that are shared among dif­fer­ent Pro­grammes, wether through As­set Shar­ing or Shared As­set Fork­s. As a guid­ing prin­ci­ple in the Board­’s de­ci­sion such shared in­tan­gi­ble as­sets SHOULD con­tin­ue to be avail­able to the oth­er Pro­grammes in­volved, and thus SHOULD on­ly be li­cenced to the new host or­gan­i­sa­tion rather than be trans­ferred. Any de­vi­a­tion from this prin­ci­ple re­quires agree­ment of all Pro­grammes in­volved as well as a spe­cif­ic de­ci­sion of the Board of [The Com­mons Con­ser­van­cy].
  4. If the out­come of the Pub­lic Con­sul­ta­tion is favourable and once the new host or­gan­i­sa­tion is ready to re­ceive the in­tan­gi­ble as­sets that have been ap­proved for trans­fer and/or li­cens­ing, [The Com­mons Con­ser­van­cy] will cre­ate an As­set Trans­fer Agree­ment to es­tab­lish the con­di­tions of the ­trans­fer. The trans­fer is con­di­tion­al and in­cludes terms that are aimed to pro­tect the open­ness of the Pro­gramme even in the en­vi­ron­ment of its new host or­gan­i­sa­tion. The trans­fer of in­tan­gi­ble as­sets will be ef­fec­tu­at­ed when the As­set Trans­fer Agree­ment is signed by [The Com­mons Con­ser­van­cy] and the new host or­gan­i­sa­tion.

The Grad­u­at­ed Pro­gramme MAY choose to leave a Hi­ber­nat­ed in­stance of it­self at [The Com­mons Con­ser­van­cy]. In that case it SHALL be placed in Hi­ber­na­tion (see ­DRACC “Hiber­na­tion of as­set­s”) and SHALL be clear­ly marked as such. [The ­Com­mons Con­ser­van­cy] MAY con­tin­ue to ac­cept in­com­ing con­tri­bu­tions in the Hiber­nat­ed Pro­gramme in­stance. In ad­di­tion, the Grad­u­at­ing Pro­gramme has the OP­TION to al­low Shared As­set Fork­ing or As­set Shar­ing (see DRACC “As­set Shar­ing” and DRACC “Pro­gramme Fork­ing”) with oth­er Pro­grammes for it­s Hiber­nat­ed in­stance. Should the new host or­gan­i­sa­tion not work out as planned, or be ter­mi­nat­ed, its in­tan­gi­ble as­sets can be eas­i­ly re­ac­ti­vat­ed with­in [The ­Com­mons Con­ser­van­cy].

If the Grad­u­at­ed Pro­gramme does not de­cide to leave a Hi­ber­nat­ed in­stance, it will be marked as “Frozen”, which means that the Pro­gramme es­sen­tial­ly be­comes “read­-on­ly” and de­vel­op­ers SHALL be di­rect­ed to­ward its new or­gan­i­sa­tion­al home.

In case of a vi­o­la­tion or re­scind­ment of the As­set Trans­fer Agree­ment or in the ­case where the new host or­gan­i­sa­tion ceas­es to ex­ist be­fore the le­gal ex­piry of the in­tan­gi­ble as­set­s, all in­tan­gi­ble as­sets SHALL be re­turned to [The Com­mon­s ­Con­ser­van­cy]. In such case these as­sets SHALL be placed in Hi­ber­nat­ed Pro­gramme. In the ab­sence of a Pro­gram­me’s Gov­ern­ing Body, it SHALL be the re­spon­si­bil­i­ty of the Board of [The Com­mons Con­ser­van­cy] to make de­ci­sions on how to pro­ceed when there is re­newed in­ter­est to con­tin­ue work on the Pro­gramme.