Open Project Contract (Draft 5)
After much discussion with interested parties, I am going to put forward yet another draft of what I'm leaning towards calling the Open Project contract. It will be the document that binds us (meaning Idyllings) with you (meaning the community) in everything to do with Dustrunners.
The following is not a legal document. Any legal issues to do with the functioning of the Project are dealt with separately and in better detail. This is less than a legal document, but more than just ideas.
Ownership of Content
All authors own the rights to their content (which includes comments attached to articles). By posting any content to the site, the author agrees that the community may take the content they've posted and build upon it freely. All authors must be credited for their contributions. The only flexibility in this area is that the author may choose to disallow commercial uses of their content... if this is the case, the author must state as much when posting the content: licenses may not be made more restrictive after the fact. Because of this element of the contract, Dustrunners effectively belongs to the community.
While Dustrunners started as an animated series, it is not bound by that classification. To get away from the notion that the animated series is primary and any other products are auxiliary, streams have been created to house distinct product groupings. Each stream will have one or more leaders to help manage the content and set goals and expectations. New sub-projects can be added to a stream at any time --- in much the same way that there isn't just one PHP project at Sourceforge. You can use our on-site streams as the home base for your project, or you can just touch base to let the rest of us know what you're doing... ultimately the streams will be as useful as you make them.
Stream leaders will be appointed at first, and then once a sufficient number of users have developed in any given stream, elections will be held to choose new leaders for a term of 6 months. The role of a leader is to set objectives for the stream and coordinate resources to make sure the results happen. For a stream that has many sub-projects, it may just be a matter of directing interested parties; for something like the Animated Series stream (which would, at least presumably, have only one major project), they would set the creative direction for the series. Leaders can be re-elected indefinitely.
Ops and Admin
If any stream or project requires money to perform its function, it must interact with the Ops and Admin stream. The Ops and Admin stream's function is to look at the costs of any proposal and make determinations about the feasibility of a project. It is up to the Ops and Admin stream to weigh the interests of the community with the interests of the authors. All Dustrunners-related projects would be eligible for support, and each member is expected to participate in Ops and Admin decisions as part of their responsibilities to the rest of the community.
Major contributions to projects call for compensation of some kind. It is up to each sub-project's members to decide the breakdown of compensation, but the system will be based on the concept of 'percentages of profits'. Comments to articles, while they must be credited, are not eligible for compensation (since it would involve an ever-deepening series of dependencies which would do more harm than good). As well, all existing content (as of May 2003) on the Dustrunners.com site is not counted either (so you do not owe Idyllings profits for the basic building blocks). The specific breakdowns of a project's profits are not for the Ops and Admin stream to decide, but if a project requests assistance from Ops and Admin, the project must be properly compensating its members.
Interactions with Idyllings
While Idyllings made the bulk of the Dustrunners content to this point, it is highly unlikely that distinction will last for long. The only thing a project owes to Idyllings at the outset is credit for its input into the Dustrunners concept. However, a project that depends on monetary assistance from Ops and Admin is, in fact, borrowing money from Idyllings. As such, any projects borrowing money will automatically owe Idyllings 10% of their profits, as a preset 'major contributor' allowance. Also, because Ops and Admin is effectively spending Idyllings' resources, it should be understood that Ops and Admin does not have direct and full control over spending: it makes recommendations that Idyllings then acts on --- unless the decisions are so horribly wrong that they must be amended or refused. This is a safety mechanism in place to preserve Idyllings' ability to function in its best interest, and will likely not be used. In terms of content or projects, Idyllings' involvement in the Dustrunners community should be viewed as any other contributor. Although the animated series stream has the most history behind it, and a lot of the Idyllings-based content will be aimed there, it should not be seen as the 'official' project.
Checks and Balances
Quite aside from the community's ability to manage its own interests, there are a number of checks and balances in place to keep this concept running smoothly. They are:
- Users: decisions will be run through and likely based on the input of stream leaders, keeping the mob under watch (if you will)
- Leaders: accountable to the community in intervals short enough to be replaced easily, but long enough for unpopular decisions to become less-offensive
- Idyllings: ultimately in control of everything, owing nothing to anyone (except in terms of money, where specific legal contracts will be written up), but in one big way is accountable the most: if an extremely unpopular decision is made by us, we will be dropped like a rock, and Dustrunners will continue on without us. We are only able to stay in this as long as we keep the faith of this contract.
Comment about Forking
A possible outcome of this endeavour will be the forking of the project into multiple similarly-made projects. While this is not desirable (creatively speaking, for us at least), it is not forbidden, earth-shattering or even bad. The goal of opening up Dustrunners was to explore the concept in as many ways as possible, and to let others explore it in different ways through different media. If forking does occur, it will be because someone feels passionately enough about the concept that they need to bring it in their own direction, which in the end is what we're striving for.