[okfn-coord] WhoKnowsWho @ the OKF (confidential)

Rufus Pollock rufus.pollock at okfn.org
Mon Jan 4 12:45:54 UTC 2010

2009/12/14 Jo Walsh <jo at frot.org>:
> dear all,
> It looks like a goldmine of trouble, but interesting trouble.

Thanks for everyone's feedback on this. I think Jo's comment reflects
the basic feeling on this matter among the board. At the last board
meeting we discussed the matter in some detail and  there were 3 basic
options as to what we could provide WKW: 1) Basic SLA (service
provision) 2) Corporate home for project 3) Home but with project
isolated in own legal entity.

I met with the WKW teams from TUI the week before Christmas and had a
fairly long discussion (I also had a follow-up email from Neil who
emphasized keenness to do something). Key outcomes of this were:

1. They would definitely wish to continue developing the project
themselves but also definitely want OKF to be "corporate home". As
such the OKF would be the people ultimately responsible for dealing
with any legal issues that arose.

2. I also discussed with them needed not just to focus on software
development but also on developing the community of users. They were
agreed they would be contributing as users but were unsure whether any
of them wished to take on the community coordinator role.

Both of these points suggest significant input from our end if we were
to take WKW on. Specifically we would:

1. Need to do some legal "due diligence" to assess our exposure and,
if necessary, take mitigating steps such as setting up the project in
its own legal entity.

2. Need to have resource to ensure we always had some available to
deal with any urgent legal issues that arose (e.g. to temporarily take
the site down).

3. (Potentially) have someone around to deal with community
coordination and basic moderation. (I would emphasize that TUI
appeared happy to take on some moderation but we should distinguish
general moderation with dealing with immediate legal risks).

I emphasized to TUI that given resources these would require there was
no way we could take this on without direct resource contribution from
them or a third party (e.g 4IP). They understood this and seemed
willing to make this happen.

In my view I think this is a very exciting opportunity but with
obvious significant risks:

1. This looks like an interesting project run by very interesting
people. We would be helping to enable and promote a very interesting
open knowledge project that also offers possibilities for significant
resource and attention benefits to the OKF.

2. If we get our processes right for this project we should be able to
deal with pretty much any other case that comes along.

3. At the same time there are clear risks, especially legal. These
risks are not only direct -- e.g. us getting sued -- but also indirect
in that dealing with this project may absorb time and energies that
could have been directed elsewhere.

In summary, it is my view that we should continue to explore this
project but with the clear proviso that for us even to consider it we
would need to receive funding sufficient to cover a) legal due
diligence b) the time of the necessary "compliance officer" c) (if
needed) the community coordinator.



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