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Re: Spec license

From: Sam Ruby <rubys@intertwingly.net>
Date: Tue, 03 Feb 2009 03:12:12 -0500
Message-ID: <4987FC5C.709@intertwingly.net>
To: Henri Sivonen <hsivonen@iki.fi>
CC: HTML WG <public-html@w3.org>

Henri Sivonen wrote:
> On Feb 2, 2009, at 23:53, Sam Ruby wrote:
>> = Topic 1: License =
>> We started with the license.  In my discussions with Ian and at 
>> Mozilla, I gathered that it was a shared understanding that by October 
>> that the license for the W3C license would be somehow open source 
>> friendly, and specifically that a Creative Commons Attribution license 
>> was something that was of common and general interest.
> This is great news!
> I have some observations/questions:
>  * Currently, most (all?) HTML5 parsers are licensed under the MIT 
> license for maximum open source licensing compatibility. Particularly in 
> the case of the tokenizer, including the whole tokenizing spec in the 
> source code of the tokenizer intermingled almost line-by-line with the 
> code is good for tracking that the spec and the code are in sync. CC-by 
> alone (without exceptions) would interfere with this use case. (To be 
> clear, I think it is much more valuable to have the spec available under 
> *a* free culture license than to address this use case specifically, but 
> I thought it was still worthwhile to point out this actual 
> non-speculative use case.)

While I have some background in licenses, it is not clear to me why the 
above is true.  Can you provide more reasons why you believe this to be 
so?  Better yet, a pointer?

>  * When a sufficient number of open sourcy pieces are mashed up, at some 
> point the issue of GPL-compatibility comes up. For example, in order to 
> explain why Validator.nu as a whole (excluding the IANA language subtag 
> registry file) is Free in the sense of the Debian Free Software 
> Guidelines, I explain how each runtime dependency is GPLv3-compatible. 
> The FSF says that CC-by 2.0 is not GPL-compatible 
> (http://www.fsf.org/licensing/licenses/index_html#ccby). (I haven't seen 
> a compatibility analysis for CC-by 3.0.) Would the W3C be willing to 
> explicitly permit relicensing under "GPLv2 or later" or "GPLv3 or later" 
> to make sure that the spec is licensed in a GPL-compatible way?

This isn't direct evidence, but the GNU FDL 1.3 was explicitly changed 
to allow certain sites to relicense information covered by this license 
to the cc-by-sa license for a limited time.  I interpret that as some 
form of endorsement, and an acknowledgement that cc-by is a better fit 
for at least some use cases.

In FSF-terms, cc-by would be a more "permissive" license than cc-by-sa. 
  As a general rule, being more permissive does not present a 
compatibility issue:


>  * Is the intent to use "or later" when specifying the version of CC-by? 
> (Particularly, using a version prior to 3.0 without "or later" would for 
> sure create the kind of problem that now exists with copying RFC text 
> into Debian packages.)
>  * Is the intent to license the IDL pieces also under a 
> software-oriented license that has previously been found suitable for 
> licensing software interfaces in a way that doesn't unduly interfere 
> with the licenses of downstream projects using the interface 
> definitions? (Consider the recent W3C interface licensing discussion in 
> connection to use in Batik.)

I don't have any intent here other than to capture and convey the 
desires of the working group.  If you have concrete suggestions, by all 
means make them.

I had suggested that we start a one week period of soliciting objections 
on Thursday.  It now occurs to me that it might be worthwhile to allow 
you and others more time to do some homework before we come to that point.

It would be helpful to plh to have this input in plenty of time for the 
W3C AC meeting in Boston starting the 22nd of March, so it would be 
ideal if we come to consensus this month.

- Sam Ruby
Received on Tuesday, 3 February 2009 08:12:47 UTC

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