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Page history last edited by Chris Messina 13 years, 5 months ago


As the OpenID framework starts to reach a critical mass of interest, the need has arisen for an organization that can serve to hold the OpenID brand and other intellectual property in trust, and also to help coordinate other community efforts such as the IWantMyOpenID bounty program. Following is a draft charter for such a foundation that can meet the needs of the OpenID community.



The purpose of the OpenID Foundation is to foster and promote the development and adoption of OpenID as a framework for user-centric identity on the Internet. The intent is for the Foundation to serve as a public trust organization representing the community of developers, vendors, and users in much the same way that Open Source Development Labs (OSDL) has done for Linux, the Mozilla Foundation has done for Firefox, the Dojo Foundation has done for the Dojo Toolkit, and the Apache Software Foundation as done for numerous Open Source projects. While this organization is not identical to any one of those, it embodies aspects of each that enable it to support the unique needs of the OpenID community.


Stewardship of Intellectual Property

The Foundation shall act as a public trustee on behalf of the OpenID community to hold, maintain, and protect intellectual property developed by or contributed to the community, including trademarks, domain names, specifications, websites, wikis, mailing lists, etc.


The Foundation shall facilitate the development of the open public specifications defining the OpenID framework for user-centric identity. In the initial phases of specification development, this means the Foundation shall host an open public specification development process based on meritocracy. When the community feels any OpenID specification is sufficiently mature, it will facilitate its contribution to an appropriate standards development organization (SDO) for continued development as an open public standard. The Foundation itself shall not ratify OpenID specifications, rather its role is to provide the infrastructure enabling the wider OpenID community to reach consensus.

Reference Implementations

The Foundation shall facilitate the development and distribution of open source reference implementations of OpenID specifications under OSI-certified open source licenses. This work will initially focus on the incubating Heraldry project within the Apache Software Foundation and thus will be distributed under the Apache License.

Interoperability Testing

The Foundation shall facilitate the development and availability of test suites and other tools and documentation that enable members of the OpenID community to voluntarily determine conformance with the published specifications and test interoperability with other implementations. The Foundation will not be certifying implementations as being compliant with the specification. This work will be initially focused within the Heraldry project. The Foundation will enable the community to develop minimum interoperability criteria that must be met by implementations in order to be permitted to use trademarks under the trusteeship of Foundation.

Marketing, Education, and Evangelism

The Foundation shall undertake promoting the adoption of the OpenID user-centric identity framework through marketing, education, and evangelism activities including websites, press and analyst briefings, workshops, and other industry events and forums.


Legal Form

The OpenID Foundation shall be formed as a 501(c)6 trade organization to provide the maximum flexibility in accommodating membership that represents all facets of the OpenID community.


The Foundation will accept donations as its main form of funding. Donors will have the option to remain anonymous or be listed on the Foundation's website should they wish.

Management & Board

The intent of the Foundation is to serve the OpenID community with governance mechanisms that are as lightweight, transparent, efficient, and equitable as possible. Initially the Foundation will be governed by a seven-member Board of Trustees. The initial board shall be selected by the founding members of the Foundation which currently are:

  • Amsoft
  • Cordance
  • JanRain
  • NetMesh
  • ooTao
  • Opinity
  • Six Apart
  • Sxip
  • VeriSign

These founding members reccomend the following initial board:

  • Artur Bergman (Six Apart, abergman@sixapart.com, San Francisco CA USA)
  • David Recordon (VeriSign, drecordon@verisign.com, San Francisco CA USA)
  • Drummond Reed (Cordance, drummond.reed@cordance.net, Seattle WA USA)
  • Johannes Ernst (NetMesh, jernst@netmesh.us, Sunnyvale CA USA)
  • Martin Atkins (independant, mart@degeneration.co.uk, Essex England UK)
  • Scott Kveton (JanRain, scott@janrain.com, Portland OR USA)
  • TBD

The empty board seat is designed to be filled by a member of the OpenID community in Asia at the board's discretion. As the Internet is global scale, we feel it is important that the board be composed of people from outside of North America. The board shall appoint the officers (President, Vice President, Secretary, and Treasurer). When the Board determines it is needed, they will appoint an Executive Director. Other operating rules and procedures will be establishing in the initial articles of incorporation and bylaws, which may be revised from time-to-time by the board. The board will also be responsible for developing the manner in which the board will be elected in the future. This work must be completed within six weeks of the first board meeting.

Working Groups

To fulfill its chartered responsibilities, the Foundation shall facilitate the formation and operation of working groups. The initial working groups shall include:

  • Specifications
  • Implementations
  • Interoperability
  • Security
  • User Experience
  • Marketing & Evangelism

These largely map to existing mailing lists and community efforts already in existance today.


As a public trust organization representing the OpenID community, the Foundation is intended to evolve to reflect the evolving needs of the community. Minor changes in the charter shall be made by the board after providing notice and soliciting feedback from the membership and the community at large for a period of not less than thirty days. Major changes in the charter must be approved by a supermajority of the membership after a notice period of not less than thirty days.

Original source.

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