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Re: Spec license

From: Cameron McCormack <cam@mcc.id.au>
Date: Wed, 4 Feb 2009 09:45:41 +1100
To: HTML WG <public-html@w3.org>
Message-ID: <20090203224541.GA8577@arc.mcc.id.au>

Philip Taylor:
> * Creating a new competing specification for an HTML-like language,  
> without the permission of the W3C, and being able to reuse and modify  
> text from the original HTML 5 spec to avoid wasted effort.

The “W3C Invited Expert and Collaborators Agreement” states:

  The Invited Expert agrees to refrain from creating derivative works
  that include the Invited Expert's contributions when those derivative
  works are likely to cause confusion about the status of the W3C work
  or create risks of non-interoperability with a W3C Recommendation.
  «Branching» is one example of a non-permissible derivative work.
   — http://www.w3.org/Consortium/Legal/2007/06-invited-expert#L118

Presumably this also applies to Members, although I couldn’t find a
clause like this in the member agreement.

I don’t know how many members of the W3C HTML WG have contributed
concrete text that has been incorporated into the spec, but I imagine
that any such contributions made under that agreement would prevent
Philip’s branching goal, currently.

It’s not clear to me if “contribution” in that agreement means an amount
of copyrightable text or something more abstract.  If for whatever
reason the W3C and the WHATWG chose to end their partnership on this
work, I wonder if it would be legally difficult for the WHATWG to fork
the spec because of this.

As far as I know, contributors to the WHATWG do not make any explicit
copyright assignment or licensing to Apple, Mozilla and Opera, unlike
with the W3C agreement.  How do contributions made through the WHATWG
end up being copyrighted by the W3C?

-- 
Cameron McCormack ≝ http://mcc.id.au/
Received on Tuesday, 3 February 2009 22:46:42 UTC

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