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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 10:35:36 -0500
Message-ID: <4C0FB4C8.3030103@burningbird.net>
To: Bijan Parsia <bparsia@cs.man.ac.uk>
CC: "T.J. Crowder" <tj@crowdersoftware.com>, public-html-comments@w3.org
Bijan Parsia wrote:
> On 9 Jun 2010, at 16:06, Shelley Powers wrote:
>
>> T.J. Crowder wrote:
> [snip]
>> My reasoning behind referencing the legalities was more to reassure 
>> people that if the W3C responded by removing the WhatWG references, 
>> the WhatWG can't "take" the HTML5 specification back. Ian Hickson may 
>> choose to no longer participate, but what we have in the W3C remains, 
>> regardless.
> [snip]
>
> This reassurance, of course, is spot on regardless of the copyright 
> situation, I'm pretty sure.
>
> First, the WHATWG spec is, in fact, licensed liberally. So one can 
> fork it.
>
> Second, publishing a document on the W3C website is predicated on 
> licensing it to the W3C:
> http://www.w3.org/Consortium/Legal/IPR-FAQ-20000620.html#holds
> "Who holds the copyright on W3C documents?
>
> The original author of the document. Many documents are created by the 
> W3C and W3C consequently holds the copyright. Owners who allow their 
> works to be published on the W3C site retain the copyright, but agree 
> to the W3C license for the redistribution of those materials from our 
> site."
>
> Hmm. That's a bit garbled (sent a note to site-comments). The point is 
> that one licenses the W3C to redistribute the text and derivatives. 
> It's a bit clearer at:
> http://www.w3.org/Consortium/Legal/2002/copyright-documents-20021231
> """Public documents on the W3C site are provided by the copyright 
> holders under the following license."""
>
> Ah, here it is:
> http://www.w3.org/2009/12/Member-Agreement
> """Member acknowledges that all such jointly owned inventions, 
> software or other copyrightable materials, or materials owned by 
> Member made available by Member for Consortium activities, will be 
> made available to the general public pursuant to the then-current W3C 
> Software Notice and License (which exists at 
> http://www.w3.org/Consortium/Legal/copyright-software). Specific 
> exceptions may be made upon approval of the Director, with the advice 
> of the Advisory Committee."""
>
> Since the only candidates for ownership are Ian, Apple, Mozilla, 
> Opera, and Google all of whom agreed to make it available on the 
> website, they have agreed to make it available under the W3C document 
> license.

Frankly, though, I don't think that Apple, Opera, or Mozilla have 
legally made an assertion of copyright ownership of the HTML5 spec. This 
is just a group of folks who worked for these companies at the time, 
signing their names to a document. As far as I know, there's never been 
a legal agreement between Apple, Opera, and Mozilla about this copyright 
ownership.

There has been, though, legal agreements between these companies and the 
entities that back the W3C.

The point is moot, though, since all of the organizations can implement 
the work, and duplicate the documents. The only time legalities really 
enter the picture is in regards to the any assertions of patent 
ownership, and the W3C has a patent policy that protects member 
organizations if they implement any piece of HTML5.
>
> Of course, I don't see that its irrevocable, but the conditions of 
> revocation are so outre to be not worth sweating over ;)
>
Very true. And wouldn't make good PR for any company making such an 
attempt ;-)

> Cheers,
> Bijan.
>
Regards

Shelley
Received on Wednesday, 9 June 2010 15:36:15 GMT

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