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copyright issue [RE: Formal Objection to Questions 1 and 2; Abstention on Question 3]

From: Dailey, David P. <david.dailey@sru.edu>
Date: Sat, 5 May 2007 08:40:40 -0400
Message-ID: <1835D662B263BC4E864A7CFAB2FEEB3D258BFC@msfexch01.srunet.sruad.edu>
To: "Gregory J. Rosmaita" <oedipus@hicom.net>, <public-html@w3.org>
Cc: "W3C HTML WG" <public-html@w3.org>

 
Fri 5/4/2007 7:01 PM Gregory J. Rosmaita wrote:
>Question 1: NO
[...]

>in addition, i am greatly disturbed by the implications of the
>question, in light of the copyright claims on HTML5 and WF2 by a
>number of developers.  
 
Hi Greg. You know it is interesting that you raise this question. When it came time to vote, I noticed the copyright notice for the first time and was curious about it. I had planned to ask a question or point of order or something in www-archive (http://lists.w3.org/Archives/Public/www-archive/ ).  I got busy and forgot.
 
I would assume -- maybe naively -- that upon formal adoption of the proposal, the copyright would be formally transfered from its current owners to a state of joint ownership by both the companies that created it and the W3C. I don't know how these things usually work, but I seem to recall that at least some of the copyrights on the work of the W3C are jointly held by W3C and MIT. I don't recall signing any sort of a copyright release when I started contributing to WHATWG, but I suspect there is a sort of implied license there.
 
However, one of the big problems I did see in transference of ownership was the following: normally, (IANAL), the conveyence of a copyright occurs for works that have already been completed. I suppose Apple et al have registered the copyright, so it might depend upon the nature of that registration. Is it registered as a digest of some sort which would cover current as well as future incarnations?  I don't quite remember how registration of not-yet-created material is supposed to happen, but perhaps the folks at PIJIP-COPYRIGHT@ROSTER.WCL.AMERICAN.EDU (formerly cni-copright) would have an opinion -- most likely they would have seven different opinions.
 
Copyright protects "original works of authorship" that are fixed in a tangible form of expression. The fixation need not be directly perceptible so long as it may be communicated with the aid of a machine or device. (US Code Title 17 section 102 -- http://www.copyright.gov/title17/92chap1.html#102 ) .  
 
I believe this phrasing entered the U.S. statute in 1978 following ratification of the Berne Treaty, and thus that it is consistent with international treatments in all but a few places. I would assume that the companies involved are all incorporated in countries that are signatories of Berne. [<levity>I can't remember if the People's Republic of Berkeley ever signed Berne, nor if BSD UNIX is incorporated there</gravity type='mismatched'>]
 
So although future versions of HTML5 that Apple et al may hold may not be directly perceptible, they are certainly not yet fixed in a tangible medium. This would all imply to me that there will have to be (at some point in time) a finite document, the copyright of which would be formally transfered into a place that W3C could have, at a minimum, distribution and derivative rights. Dan mentioned something to the effect that there are no direct links to it yet from W3C, so I really think that means they've got the issue covered somehow and that precedents exist within the big umbrella that is W3C.
 
I'm not sure it matters now, though, since the vote was not to approve an existing document, but rather to use an evolving document as a place to begin discussion.
 
So would it be possible to withdraw that part of your objection? I'm thinking that since we're only voting to discuss the WHATWG proposal not to ratify it, then the issue of how the copyright will be conveyed can be worked out prior to actually making any recommendations. Any objections about that process would become appropriate at that point in time. (I'm new here, so I don't have a clear idea in my mind how this is all supposed to progress. So apologies to all if I mispresented any part of the process.)
 
cheers,
David Dailey
http://srufaculty.sru.edu/david.dailey/copyright/dailey_on_copyright.htm
Received on Saturday, 5 May 2007 12:40:38 GMT

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