W3C home > Mailing lists > Public > www-qa-wg@w3.org > November 2002

Re: proposed Test Materials license

From: Joseph Reagle <reagle@w3.org>
Date: Fri, 8 Nov 2002 12:25:33 -0500
To: Lofton Henderson <lofton@rockynet.com>
Cc: www-qa-wg@w3.org, Karin Rivard <rivard@MIT.EDU>, "Marija V. Jankovich" <marija@MIT.EDU>
Message-Id: <200211081225.33447.reagle@w3.org>

On Friday 08 November 2002 10:41 am, Lofton Henderson wrote:
> The "Operational Guidelines" of the QA Working Group (QAWG) define
> guidelines for the process and operational aspects of the quality
> practices of the W3C WGs.  One of the considerations is licenses
> applicable to test materials [1].  We have had discussion in the past,
> and concluded that W3C Document License was better than W3C Software
> License, for a number of reasons.

Hi Loften (and QA WG)!

To set some context for my response, the support (e.g., email questions and 
the FAQ) and maintenance (e.g., tweaking and fixing bugs) of the copyright 
licenses is a non-trivial cost. <smile/> First, there's the W3C Team time 
(mostly me) and more importantly the extremely rare time of high cost of 
counsel. So, for these reasons we have a great interest in minimizing the 
number of legal materials we have to develop and support. So regardless of 
the substantive points below I would expect the threshold for adoption of a 
new license to be quite high. 

To start, variances such as the terminology of "personal, non-transferable 
and non-sublicenseable" are terms of the art which I would have to consult 
and get approval of counsel for.

> As indicated in the "Note" at the end of checkpoint 6.2 [1], the QAWG now
> believes that a Test Materials (TM) License is needed.  A draft proposed
> Test Materials License is at [2].  The rationales for a TM License
> include: * Test Materials are specific documents provided for a specific,
> defined and limited purpose. The license to use and copy them can
> therefore be specific, defined and limited.

There's two scopes involved. First, is the scope of the license on the 
material it applies to. This might not be your concern and it can be 
addressed by being very specific in the materials about exactly which 
materials (in a cvs checkout directory, tar/zip ball, branch of our web 
space) the license applies to. Second, is the scope of use provided by the 
license. Trying to govern the use of materials (i.e., "solely for the 
purpose of testing compliance") via a license is tricky. We haven't done 
this in any copyright license before. We do make exceptions in the FAQ for 
well known scenarios (translation and annotation) in creating derivative 
works of documents, but not in the first order (primary) rights of copying.

>     * The W3C SOFTWARE and DOCUMENT licenses are more general in nature
> and do not provide for the precise license grant. The W3C SOFTWARE and
> DOCUMENT were not intended to cover the conveyance of rights effected by
> the proposed "Notice and License for Test Materials."

Regardless of their present titles, which are still fairly fitting, they now 
serve two functional classes of license: a OSI/GPL compatible license 
(i.e., software), and a license which restricts derivative works 
(document). For instance, while some might not consider a test suite or DTD 
"software", they have been released under the software license.

>     * Any ambiguity that may exist with respect to someone's right to use
> the test materials under the "one size fits all" W3C SOFTWARE and
> DOCUMENT licenses are expressly clarified by the proposed "Notice and
> License for Test Materials."
> In addition, the following is expressed by some W3C members who are
> potential contributors of test materials:
>     * Essentially this document addresses the ambiguity of the Software
> license that makes it impossible for vendors to submit a testing code.
> In other words, some potential TM submitters will not submit materials if
> they are under the Software (or Document) license for re-use and
> redistribution.
>
> We look forward to your thoughts and feedback on this.

While I certainly appreciate a complete proposal, could we put that aside 
for the moment and look at the specific scenarios why the document license 
is not considered satisfactory?
Received on Friday, 8 November 2002 12:25:38 GMT

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