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Re: Spec license use cases - WG Decision on the Record?

From: Sam Ruby <rubys@intertwingly.net>
Date: Fri, 13 Feb 2009 19:24:44 -0500
Message-ID: <49960F4C.6000904@intertwingly.net>
To: HTML WG <public-html@w3.org>


I'm pursuing this issue.  The W3C has a relationship with the SFLC, and 
  yes, that's the same SFLC that is associated with Eben Moglen of FSF 
fame.  Unsurprisingly, they wish to work from use cases (now, where have 
I heard that before? <grin>).  I had sent this email forward as 
something that captured a number of such use cases, and while it was met 
favorably, I got a request today that I verify that it represents a 
position of the Work Group.

So, at this time I'm requesting that anybody who has additional use 
cases and/or wishes to challenge any or all of the use cases listed 
below please reply on list to this email.

If you agree or have no opinion, no response is necessary.

- Sam Ruby

Henri Sivonen wrote:
> On Feb 3, 2009, at 17:32, Karl Dubost wrote:
>> Le 3 févr. 2009 à 10:10, James Graham a écrit :
>>> I should be able to copy sections of the spec text into the source 
>>> code or testcases and license the whole under an MIT license (I don't 
>>> recall how often we actually do this in html5lib but I certainly 
>>> would like to do so more often in the future).
>> I have difficulties to understand why it is not possible with the 
>> current W3C Document License. What you are doing is not a derivative 
>> work nor a full copy of the document, but just quotations of it, which 
>> is already authorized by the document license.
> Relying on the American Fair Use doctrine or European enumerated but 
> subjective limitations[1] of copyright such as the right to quote are 
> not good enough for inclusion of content in a piece of software that is 
> then as a whole explicitly licensed under an Open Source license. For an 
> Open Source software whose project management is itself properly 
> diligent and wants to get the software included in other projects whose 
> management is diligent, including substantial passages from a spec under 
> a subjective limitation of copyright (where subjectivity is ultimately 
> up to a judge) without an explicit license is not acceptable.
> In case the above paragraph seems paranoid, here's where I'm coming 
> from: Previously a member of W3C staff has relayed to me a "warn[ing]" 
> from W3C lawyers because I had merged the prose of the HTML5 
> tokenization section into the source code of the Validator.nu HTML 
> Parser as comments. I had copied the text from the WHATWG copy of the 
> spec, which permits such copying. The "warn[ing]" was quickly retracted, 
> but I think it is enough to show that it would be unwise for a software 
> developer to undertake copyright-sensitive actions on the text of an 
> HTML WG deliverable unless the action is permitted by an explicit license.
> In short, if we wish to address a use case, the use case needs to be 
> permitted by the spec license. Saying that it counts as a quote or as 
> Fair Use is not good enough.
>> Maybe we should first identify what are the use cases and see if the 
>> set of licenses, we have from W3C Document Licenses to others, covers 
>> or not the use cases.
>> So far I see
>> * Publishing the full or parts of a specification in a book to be sold.
>> * Include prose of the specification in software from proprietary to 
>> complete open source
>> Something else?
>  * Copying the prose defining an algorithm, pasting it verbatim or with 
> modifications into source code of a program as comments and writing an 
> implementation of the algorithm (possibly making creative optimizations) 
> so that the spec text and the statements of the programming language 
> intermingle. The resulting program should be licensable under the MIT 
> license without additional terms. (For algorithms contained in "HTML 5", 
> this use case is addressed by the WHATWG license, but relying on that 
> means that the W3C instance of HTML5 can't be treated as the canonical 
> instance. I'm already exercising this option on the source code of the 
> Validator.nu HTML Parser under the WHATWG spec license.)
>  * Extracting parts of a spec and showing the extracts verbatim or with 
> modifications in the user interface of a validator. The validator as a 
> whole including its UI strings should be Open Source and should be 
> suitable for packaging in popular GNU system distributions including 
> Debian. Both distributing a copy of the spec text and a program for 
> extracting pieces of it at runtime and distributing preprocessed 
> extracts should be permitted. Showing a copyright notice on in the 
> documentation of the validator is acceptable, but showing a copyright 
> notice or other legal legends in the UI whenever a spec extract appears 
> would not be acceptable. (I'm already doing this in Validator.nu under 
> the WHATWG spec license. However, I'd be interested in having the option 
> to do this with the authoring guide/reference deliverables of the WG and 
> with the SVG and MathML specs.)
>  * Extracting the WebIDL parts of the spec and incorporating them 
> verbatim or with modifications into the source code trees of 
> implementations of the spec. Such inclusion should not interfere with 
> LGPLv2.1 or later (Gecko, WebKit), GPLv2 or later (Gecko), MPL 1.1 or 
> later (Gecko), Apache Software License 2.0 (Batik) or the licensing 
> models of Opera and IE.
>  * Extracting the CSS parts of the spec and incorporating them verbatim 
> or with modifications into the source code trees of implementations of 
> the spec. Such inclusion should not interfere with LGPLv2.1 or later 
> (Gecko, WebKit), GPLv2 or later (Gecko), MPL 1.1 or later (Gecko), 
> Apache Software License 2.0 (Batik) or the licensing models of Opera and 
> IE.
>  * Copying prose from the spec and pasting it verbatim or with 
> modifications into comments or accompanying documentation of a test case 
> and checking the test case into the source tree of any of the 
> above-mentioned software projects plus html5lib without interfering with 
> their licensing or choice of project hosting.
>  * Continuing the development of the WG deliverables in a non-W3C venue 
> if the W3C or the HTML WG cease operations.
>  * Forking some or all of the WG deliverables and pursuing an 
> alternative development path outside the W3C even without the W3C or the 
> HTML WG ceasing operations. (That is, I think what Rob Burns is doing on 
> the HTML4All wiki should be allowed.)
> I believe licensing the spec under the MIT license[2] would address all 
> the above use cases to my satisfaction.
> Additional use cases that I think are worthwhile but that I'm less 
> interested in advocating personally:
>  * Taking WG deliverables in whole or part and repurposing content into 
> a book that is given gratis or sold on paper or as a digital file.
>  * Using extracts from WG deliverables in documentation published on 
> developer.mozilla.org.
> [1] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Limitations_and_exceptions_to_copyright
> [2] http://www.opensource.org/licenses/mit-license.php
Received on Saturday, 14 February 2009 00:25:20 UTC

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