The EcoPort Foundation
Franchised Country Programmes
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Questions, comments and suggestions: t.putter@ecoport.org

Nothing in this description shall be interpreted as implying that the direct, free access to the EcoPort database will be inhibited or made subject to access fees or that information in the EcoPort database will in any way be sold. See further details below.


The Foundation's development strategy is to allow for the development of formal, national structures to provide coherence and local-support services to individual EcoPort knowledge workers around the world.

Once again, Rotary International (RI) may be used as an explanatory model. RI has a strong central philosophy, mission, sense of values and an associated package of standard prototypes and procedures that serve an umbrella function under which RI country and sub-country Rotary Clubs could be established. This pattern allows for local autonomy and responsibility, while adhering to and promoting global values and principles to serve a common cause.

The central EcoPort database and IT infrastructure and service, may be compared to a company having free access to another company's telephone service and system. That is, any individual, institution or project that has a need for a database and an information management system and knowledge creation service, could use EcoPort as their virtual database. (The suite of procedures and protocols that enable and empower this are inherent and integral aspects of the EcoPort system; indeed, it is central to the very idea of consilience, and will not be explained here.)

If a local project or activity can save the costs of creating a local database and maintaining and servicing it, and if it gets the benefit from having free access to EcoPort's copyleft content, with all the saving of costs due to avoiding data duplication, then the Foundation invites such initiatives to become Affiliate users within the EcoPort 'knowledge bazaar' under a franchising arrangement and agreement which will work roughly as follows:

In the explanation that follows, the Foundation will become the franchiser and the end-user/project the franchisee. The Franchiser will grant the franchisee a licence to use the EcoPort system, service and copyleft content (restrictions apply) in exchange for the franchisee paying an overhead fee amounting to 30% of any one Project's operating budget to the Foundation. This will only apply to Projects that have a budget and which would otherwise have had to spend money on establishing a database and setting up an internal IT support service. The Foundation will use these funds towards paying the costs associated with offering the central IT infrastructure and service, and where applicable, to recover the costs to the Foundation of providing infrastructure, equipment, software, Internet/www connectivity and ICT support ‹ either in kind or through direct financial subsidy.

Effectively, the global knowledge commons that is the EcoPort database, will make copyleft information freely available to any individual or institution who wishes to use it. Because the information itself is free, i.e. it is not traded or sold as a commodity inhibited by copyright, the emphasis in initiatives that wish to make knowledge management a sustainable financial enterprise, could shift from purchasing information to charging for services using the free copyleft information.

Consistent with the Foundation's Bylaws, all franchisee's and franchised enterprises will (i) make provision for a supervisory role by an Office Bearer of the Foundation or an agent so designated by the Foundation to act in this capacity; and, (ii) ensure that, and make provision for, the Foundation to have free and open access to records of financial transactions, bank statements, financial books, audited accounts, meeting minutes, official reports and any formal documents required by the national laws and regulations governing, and applicable to, the conduct of the franchising enterprise conducted under, and in, the ™ name 'EcoPort'.

Affiliates, as distinct from franchisees (the former may not trade under the name 'EcoPort'while the latter do), for example, a local Internet Cafe might set up a business to support local schools by providing access to information relevant to the school syllabus. Such a business could be conducted in several ways, including the option of the ISP creating a database of information resources that it would manage and maintain as a 'fountainhead' of resources that could be sold/offered as a service to the relevant teachers.

At the other extreme, the ISP could, without incurring the expense of setting up a local database and maintaining it, rely on 'trolling' the open Internet and collecting, collating and packaging whatever it can find and selling/offering 'assembled knowledge products' to the teacher/school.

In between these two extremes open to Affiliates, there is an opportunity to use EcoPort because the value-added services that it offers will improve the efficiency of the ISP's knowledge management and provision services in two ways:

Firstly, the use of the EcoPort database (NB!; as opposed to only reading EcoPort web pages) will eliminate the need and costs that the ISP would otherwise incur if it were to establish and maintain its own database.

Secondly, web--trolling is notoriously time consuming and haphazard because a web search simply finds all occurrences of a text phrase. Thus, a Google search by a biology teacher for the word 'photosynthesis' will find millions of 'hits' and the output will not be presented within a organised, ontological system and 'eco-rational' framework such as used in/by EcoPort.

Therefore, if an ISP, (a) explicitly sets out to create a revenue earning business using and under the name 'EcoPort'; (b) saves operating costs by using EcoPort ICT; and (c) can offer a better and more efficient service by using the EcoPort database, then the arrangement between the ISP and the EcoPort Foundation could reasonably be constructed as franchising arrangement wherein EcoPort benefits from the ISP's revenues in order to offer and sustain the service.

Note that neither the ISP nor the Foundation will be allowed to earn revenue from selling data and information. Instead, the aims are, respectively, to earn income for services that collate and grant access, and that provide resources to sustain the infrastructure and database procedures that make EcoPort possible as a Global Public Good.

Enterprises that adopt this business model, will be charged a franchising fee of 30% of their budget for this aspect of their business, or a flat annual membership fee to be negotiated between the Knowledge Service Provider (KSP) and the Foundation.

In contrast to such explicit revenue-earning activities, the biology teacher quoted in the example above, will be able to use EcoPort free of charge as a global public good precisely because the teacher's use would be for non-commercial, educational use.

The Foundation needs revenue to sustain its core capabilities, and where others earn revenue as a result of its existence, an attempt will be made to get them to share the benefits that EcoPort's capabilities enable. On the other hand, where no commercial use is made, EcoPort will itself be open and available for free use.

All fees raised in this way will be applied to the meeting the costs of maintaining the central, communal system and service. Under no circumstance will EcoPort data be sold. Neither will the copyleft status of the shared information be compromised. The entire franchising scheme will operate on voluntary, share-ware terms and no user of EcoPort knowledge will be obliged to enter into a franchise agreement with the Foundation. However, when a franchise is established and conducted under the name 'EcoPort' it shall be conducted in complete transparency and all aspects of the franchisee's operations relevant to the substantive work or any transaction initiated under or in the name 'EcoPort', will be open to, and openly shared with the franchiser.