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

From: Jonas Sicking <jonas@sicking.cc>
Date: Fri, 13 Feb 2009 16:51:51 -0800
Message-ID: <63df84f0902131651w5d62903co17f35bc336e6720@mail.gmail.com>
To: Sam Ruby <rubys@intertwingly.net>
Cc: HTML WG <public-html@w3.org>

Hi Sam,

The first bullet point in Henris list mentions copying prose in the
spec into MIT licensed code. In addition to that mozilla needs to copy
it into LGPLv2.1 and later, MPL 1.1 and later, and GPLv2 and later. I
also suspect Opera and Microsoft needs to do the same into the
licensing models of Opera and IE.

Another point that I wanted to specifically mention was that not only
do the use cases Henri mention need to be legal. It is critically
important that it they are obviously legal. Having worked at IBM i
know that big corporation lawyers are extremely conservative in what
they consider allowed. If there is any doubt they generally fall back
to "don't do it". Ideal is therefore if we can use a license that is
either excruciatingly clear, or use an existing license where there is
already lots of precedence for the use cases we want to support.

/ Jonas

On Fri, Feb 13, 2009 at 4:24 PM, Sam Ruby <rubys@intertwingly.net> wrote:
> Background:
> 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 00:52:28 UTC

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