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Document License prohibits profiles?

From: Lofton Henderson <lofton@rockynet.com>
Date: Thu, 04 Nov 2004 09:48:25 -0700
Message-Id: <5.1.0.14.2.20041104092202.034e1ff8@localhost>
To: site-policy@w3.org
Cc: www-qa-wg@w3.org

I have been asked by QA Working Group to forward this question here.  QAWG 
is very interested in profiling of specifications (Recommendations).  It is 
increasingly common in the era of big standards.  QAWG has dealt with 
profiling in its "Specification Guidelines" [4] and supporting "Variability 
in Specifications" [5].

Some of us interpret the W3C Document License [1] and FAQ [2] as (probably 
unintentionally) prohibiting profiles, which would be extremely 
unfortunate.  At best, it is very unclear. As some new publications of our 
documents are pending, it would be interesting to get clarification as soon 
as possible.

=====original message starting thread [6] on QAWG follows=====
I have been asked a question by a (legally) cautious potential profiler of 
a W3C REC, and one reasonable answer is fairly startling, based on 
documented W3C policies.

Is it legal for an individual or group to write a profile of a Rec which 
contains the Document License [1]?  That license says:

>No right to create modifications or derivatives of W3C documents is 
>granted pursuant to this license. However, if additional requirements 
>(documented in the Copyright FAQ) are satisfied, the right to create 
>modifications or derivatives is sometimes granted by the W3C to 
>individuals complying with those requirements.

I think a profile is certainly a derivative work of its base standard -- it 
defines a subset of the base standard.  Is it a derivative in the sense of 
the Document License?  I don't know.  One would hope that the Copyright FAQ 
[2] would say something like "Profiles are okay, as long as they clearly 
distinguished themselves from the base REC."  But no.  The section on 
Annotation (5.8) flirts with the topic, but doesn't deal with it head on.

It is not unreasonable to interpret the Document License in such a way 
that, for example, an industry group could NOT define a technical graphics 
profile by basing it on SVG Basic, as suggested in the 4th paragraph of 
SVG12 [3].  There are other examples as well.

-Lofton.

[1] http://www.w3.org/Consortium/Legal/2002/copyright-documents-20021231
[2] http://www.w3.org/Consortium/Legal/IPR-FAQ-20000620
[3] http://www.w3.org/TR/SVG12/profiling.html
[4] http://www.w3.org/TR/2004/WD-qaframe-spec-20040830/
[5] http://www.w3.org/TR/2004/WD-spec-variability-20040830/
[6] http://lists.w3.org/Archives/Public/www-qa-wg/2004Nov/0005.html
Received on Thursday, 4 November 2004 16:48:42 GMT

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