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Open Governance

The open governance of a project determines who has influence and control beyond what is legally required in an open source license. There are certain aspects of a projects ownership, from the copyright, trademarks, domains to even source control and build systems.

In short, there is a difference between open source and open governance.


The open governance of a project requires open ownership of the projects assets and decision making process.


  • Who owns the copyright on contributed code?
  • Who owns the domain(s) for the project?
  • Who owns the trademark for the project, is it neutrally owned and governed? Are there open trademark guidelines?
  • How can users license the project’s branding? Are there open branding guidelines?
  • If the project raises funds, who owns it?


  • Who makes decisions on how the project performs releases?
  • How can the project contributors become committers?
  • How are project committers removed?
  • If the project raises funds, who decides how this money is spent?
  • Who decides the project roadmap?
  • Who can participate in security disclosure issues?
  • How transparent are the decision-making processes?
  • Who enforces the code of conduct?



Many open source projects out there don't have open governance, some do and for those operating under open governance, there are multiple ways to specify governance. Here are some good governance examples that you can learn from:


Most open source foundations exhibit open governance via their bylaws and/or charter: