W3C home > Mailing lists > Public > public-html@w3.org > February 2009

Re: Spec license

From: Robert J Burns <rob@robburns.com>
Date: Tue, 3 Feb 2009 14:26:57 -0600
Cc: Sam Ruby <rubys@intertwingly.net>, HTML WG <public-html@w3.org>
Message-Id: <688CDBB2-94A3-4AF7-BCA5-920971B61C20@robburns.com>
To: Maciej Stachowiak <mjs@apple.com>

On Feb 3, 2009, at 10:25 AM, Maciej Stachowiak wrote:

> That being said, there really aren't any options that the WebKit  
> project "can't live with", since we can always copy IDL from the  
> WHATWG copy of the spec, which has an extremely permissive license.  
> However, it would be my preference that the W3C copy could be used  
> as the canonical reference.

This is a very important point that makes the issue less urgent and  
less important however it gets resolved. Obviously licensing anywhere  
can change by the time any subsequent drafts or the final  
recommendation reaches completion. However, as long as the W3C has  
agreed to allow the editor to publish HTML5 independently and the  
editor publishes it under a more permissive license then the terms of  
the W3C HTML5 license are not very effective. Obviously the licensing  
terms could change for subsequent drafts so that the W3C would become  
the more permissible license, but until or unless that happens the  
only thing preventing permissive use of the specification is the fact  
that a potential copier of the spec might be unaware of the more  
permissibly licensed copy (copyright protection through obscurity).

>> The ASF considers cc-by 2.5 to be compatible with the Apache  
>> License 2.0[1].  The FSF considers the Apache license 2.0 to be  
>> compatible with the LGPLv3.[2].

Thee is often too much concern over compatibility with GPL licenses.  
The issue for a potential licensor to consider is whether they want  
GPL compatibility? Is the licensor OK with the potential that a  
separate open source project might be created from the licensor's work  
that is incompatible with their own project. In other words a GPL  
compatible license allows a GPL project to fork an existing work, make  
subtle or significant changes to the work and those changes would be  
unable to be committed back to the original work. In many cases  
licensors are ok with that. In other cases they may not be. That's  
really up to the W3C leadership to decide. My feeling is that the  
licenses more permissive than GPL are more free-er-er :-). Also I  
think attribution is nice, but can obviously grow significantly and  
become a burden as more contributors get involved with a project.

Take care,
Received on Tuesday, 3 February 2009 20:27:35 UTC

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