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Re: Formally Object to Referencing WhatWG within the W3C HTML5 specification

From: Shelley Powers <shelleyp@burningbird.net>
Date: Wed, 09 Jun 2010 08:00:56 -0500
Message-ID: <4C0F9088.4080506@burningbird.net>
To: public-html-comments@w3.org
Hi Bijan

> I don't think the legal status of a group should be a bright line for  
> whether the W3C formally or informally collaborates with it (putting  
> aside the legal status of the W3C). After all, the W3C generally has  
> as part of its goal as wide review and participation as possible. If  
> people self-organize into larger groupings, that can be a strong  
> positive. Lots of things have emerged outside more formal channels.
> I've been involved in external movements (namely, OWLED) which tried  
> to retain some effect after a working group started and if one isn't  
> careful, it's easy for the WG to drain energy from the external group.  
> W3C interest groups have had varying success in building and  
> maintaining community (and I've tried to work that angle) but it  
> doesn't always work (communities are surprisingly delicate in some  
> dimensions).
> Similarly, I don't find "official" status of a group very compelling,  
> as referenced in:
>     http://lists.w3.org/Archives/Public/public-html/2010Jun/0209.html
>     http://lists.w3.org/Archives/Public/public-html/2010Jun/0213.html
> To put it another way, if the WHATWG incorporated, which it could  
> easily do, I don't think anyone objecting to the link or the text or  
> the fact of two specs or the normativity of a spec would be remotely  
> satisfied. The problems would all remain.
It doesn't matter now what the WhatWG does. Once the members of that 
organization agreed to abide by the membership agreement they entered 
into with the W3C, they have effectively assigned the effort to the W3C 
(via the three legal entities behind the W3C).

They can't "take it back".

But, they can generate FUD, and confusion, by continuing this charade of 
a separate specification and group supporting the HTML5 effort.

If the members truly cared about the specification, and the web 
community, they would see that this continuing "shadow" effort does more 
harm than good, and would discontinue the WhatWG effort. Whether they do 
or don't, though, is not a concern of the W3C, or the larger web 
community. What is a concern, though, at least to me, and I hope to 
others, is that the W3C is seeming to condone the actions of the WhatWG 
by continuing to allow embedded references to the WhatWG email lists and 
specifications _within_ the HTML5 specification.

This just can't continue.
> Similarly, I'm pretty unclear on the IETF's legal status. ( 
> http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Internet_Engineering_Task_Force
> """Because the IETF does not have members (nor is it an organisation  
> per se), the Internet Society provides the financial and legal  
> framework for the activities of the IETF and its sister bodies (IAB,  
> IRTF,...). Recently the IETF has set up an IETF Trust that manages the  
> copyrighted materials produced by the IETF. IETF activities are funded  
> by meeting fees, meeting sponsors and by the Internet Society via its  
> organizational membership and the proceeds of the Public Interest  
> Registry.""" Other spelunking seems to confirm this.)  But, I don't  
> think anyone would claim that the IETF, at almost any point of its  
> history, wasn't an appropriate body to reference and collaborate with.

I believe the entire purpose of the IETF Trust was specifically to 
address legal issues, such as copyright ownership.

With the number of patent lawsuits, and accusations of intellectual 
property theft that abound in our industry, it's essential that any 
group whose purpose is to create specifications or standards by which 
several entities agree to be bound, ensure that those same entities do 
no open themselves up to a lawsuit by doing so.

> It's certainly within the W3C's/HTMLWG's right, and perhaps self-
> interest, to insist on informally or normatively referenced material  
> have certain properties (such as not denigrating the W3C). But,  
> presumably, that's independent of the perceived status of the body  
> publishing the referenced material. (Though, the W3C does sensibly  
> prefer to reference material that have reasonably stable URIs. That  
> doesn't seem to be a huge problem here, though the WHATWG might want  
> to make some at least informal arrangements in case Ian gets hit by a  
> bus driven by someone he's pissed off ;)).
Or driven by a beer truck.

> Your point about who owns the documents, however, is a good one and  
> I've posed some specific questions about in a separate message. I  
> don't understand the current set of copyrights (the licenses are more  
> clear; but whether the licensors have the right to so license is less  
> clear).

Not just copyright, though.

The W3C has a moral and ethical duty to the larger web community to, 
once and for all, establish what is _the_ HTML5. Who is _the_ group 
managing it. What is _the_ procedure for people to follow to ensure 
their interests are met.

The W3C has put off this difficult, but necessary, task long enough.
> Cheers,
> Bijan.

Received on Wednesday, 9 June 2010 13:01:32 UTC

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