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The custodian is a legal entity that acts as a trust for the OVN. In that sense, it is part of the organizational interface, acts as an interface between the OVN and entities in its environment. The Custodian is also seen as a service provider to the OVN, providing interconnectivity and recognizability with/for traditional institutions.

See also Legal framework


Chris Cook also proposed the concept of nondominium property and of Custodian, which was later implemented by Sensorica in the OVN model.

Sensorica's most important Custodian is ACES-CAKE, which was first created to handle a grant to pay an intern student.

Roles for the custodian

  • Property: implement the nondominium form of property (more on nondominium and peer property on the p2p Foundation).
  • Legal representation: represents the network's interests in legal procedures
  • Liability: take on the legal responsibility for the use of material assets by affiliates in the OVN. (Ex. insures the use of spaces, tools and equipment, and consumable materials).
  • Trust: Legal owner of important assets used by the OVN's affiliates, manages shared assets. These assets can be material (space, equipment), or immaterial (websites, logos).
  • Transaction services: offers transaction instruments (financial transactions and others) to network affiliates, fiscal sponsorship services.
  • Referee: balances governance between OVN affiliates and other peripheral legal entities like Exchange firms, or external legal entities, mediates between co-creation and maintenance of commons and co-extraction practices.

In the Sensorica OVN, the Custodian ACES-CAKE has also been branded as an organization offering consultancy services. In this instance, ACES-CAKE acts as an Exchange firm.

Some custodial functions can be automated and absorbed into a DAO.

Obligations for the custodian

  • Must respect a charter provided by the affiliates of the OVN, which specifies how assets should be managed and used.
  • Cede all assets to another entity in case the OVN affiliates decide to revoke the role of custodianship

Types of custodian

  • network custodian - concerned with assets (material or immaterial) that are shared across the network.
  • project custodian - the scope is limited to one project, which is considered as an autonomous unit.
  • casual custodian - the scope is limited to a particular asset, ex. someone "owning" a Facebook account for the network.

Examples of custodians

See Sensorica's custodian agreement templates

Dont's for a Custodian

No Custodian must bare the same name as the OVN. In other words, the identity of the Custodian must be separate from the identity of the OVN. The Custodian must be considered only as a service provider to the OVN. In case abuse it must be simple for OVN affiliates to cut links to the Custodian, transfer all the assets held in trust by the Custodian to another organization that will take the role of custodianship in its place.

It is also to give primacy to the OVN, the network, which is where economic activity takes place (not at the interface).

This has concrete historical roots in Sensporica, see Sensorica spring 2014 Crisis. In short, a few individuals wanted to dramatically change the orientation of the OVN and use the brand in doing so. It turned out that the non-registered association legal status allowed OVN affiliates to hold on to their assets, including their brand, much better than if the brand name and physical or digital assets were held into a legal entity, a Custodian.

See also

  1. Legal framework
  2. Exchange firm