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[Fwd: Re: Licenses and copyright for open source software development]

From: Dominique Hazael-Massieux <dom@w3.org>
Date: Mon, 30 Jul 2007 09:43:17 +0200
To: public-mobileok-checker <public-mobileok-checker@w3.org>
Message-Id: <1185781397.7611.98.camel@altostratustier>


As per my ACTION-505 and ACTION-509, I had requested some advices from
our legal team on the licensing and copyright questions we had discussed
back in our June F2F. I got an answer to my questions this morning (see

One of the key points is that it may not be possible for us to
distribute our package as a whole under the W3C Software License if we
rely on GPL-licensed packages... I realize now that what is discussed
below ("can GPL code be released under the w3c software license?") is a
bit ambiguous (distribution/packaging vs relicensing).

If we have a call tomorrow, can we discuss whether this answers at least
some of our questions, and what further questions we may have?


-------- Message transféré --------
> > The Mobile Web Best Practices Working Group has started work on a
> > reference implementation of a checker library as part of one its task
> > forces [1].
> >
> > The goal is to release that software under the W3C Software License.
> > The first goal if that message is to ask if there are any well-known
> > open source licenses that are not compatible with this license -
> > mainly, we're likely to re-use some existing open-source Java
> > libraries, and we're wondering if there was any license we should
> > avoid as being troublesome. Corollarily, should we have any doubt
> > about the compatibilities between a given license and the
> > redistribution of  our code under the W3C Software license, is W3C
> > Team Legal able to help/give advices?
> There are two questions in question one: 
> 1/ Can code produced under the W3C Software License be used 
>    in GPL Software? 
> This question is answered in the IPR-FAQ:
> http://www.w3.org/Consortium/Legal/IPR-FAQ-20000620#GNU
> As the W3C Software license is wider than the GPL, GPL Software can 
> perfectly use code under produced under the W3C Software License. 
> 2/ Can code produced under the GPL be integrated and the whole 
>    software be released under the W3C Software License?
> My opinion is that this is violating the GPL. The W3C Software License 
> allows for commercial closed source use of the code released. But the 
> GPL contains a clause producing a viral effect: Any code used is 
> forcing the party using it to release the whole software under GPL 
> containing again the requirement to maintain the GPL. 
> Now, taking this into account, we would have parts of the code being GPL 
> but release it under W3C Software License allowing for commercial 
> binary code releases. So here, the W3C Software License is wider as the 
> GPL and we can't give rights that we have never acquired. 
> Solution: Either ask the copyright holders of the code you want to reuse 
> to give you a license under the W3C Software License or publish the 
> code produced by the Mobile Web Best Practises under the GPL.
> >
> > The second question relates to copyright of the code: my
> > understanding is, the project being done under the umbrella of a W3C
> > Working Group, its output by default gets under the W3C Copyright; is
> > that true? If it is, is there any recommended way to recognize the
> > work of individual/companies that have contributed to the development
> > of the code? Some of the contributors (legitimately) ask their
> > contributions to be officially recognized, and wonder what's the
> > proper way to do so.
> Only those parts of the code that are produced by W3C employees are 
> copyrighted by W3C. Contributors retain their copyright. The effective 
> mix of code will lead to a final source where the single owner and 
> parts are not recognizable anymore thus leading to shared copyright. In 
> any case, W3C requires that the contributor grants sufficient rights to 
> W3C so we can distribute under the W3C Software License. This Grant is 
> inherent in the Working Group process. If there are pieces of code 
> coming from people/companies external to the WG please use 
> http://www.w3.org/PATCHES.html (for the moment)
> >
> > My last question is: if/when we start receiving contributions from
> > non-W3C Members, or from Members that are not participating in the
> > MWI BP Working Group, how does this affect the copyright situation?
> > My understanding is that non-W3C Members should sign the
> > Collaborators agreement [2], but would they need to do that on paper?
> > Can this agreement be made e.g. by email?
> Answered above..
> Again sorry for the delay
> Rigo
> >
> > 1.
> > http://www.w3.org/2005/MWI/BPWG/Group/TaskForces/Checker/Overview.htm
> >l 2.
> > http://www.w3.org/Consortium/Legal/2002/collaborators-agreement-20021
> >231
Received on Monday, 30 July 2007 07:43:45 UTC

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