W3C home > Mailing lists > Public > public-css-testsuite@w3.org > January 2008

Re: Licensing

From: Ian Hickson <ian@hixie.ch>
Date: Thu, 10 Jan 2008 02:34:45 +0000 (UTC)
To: Bert Bos <bert@w3.org>
Cc: public-css-testsuite@w3.org
Message-ID: <Pine.LNX.4.62.0801100216160.13181@hixie.dreamhostps.com>

On Wed, 9 Jan 2008, Bert Bos wrote:
> Test suite licenses have been discussed a lot in W3C over the years. The 
> current policy[1] is the result. The fact that it has been stable since 
> at least 2004 indicates to me that we need more than presumptions before 
> discussing it again.

It's been stable mostly because there aren't many test suites, and few 
people use those that exist. And it's not clear that people are actually 
obeying the license in the cases where they do. (The DOM test suite uses a 
different license, the W3C software license, which is slightly less 
restrictive and still, as far as I can tell, gets violated almost every 
time that test suite is used.)

> It seems to me that conformance isn't helped by allowing people to make 
> modifications to the test suite without review by the WG.

Modifications are frequently required to adapt test cases to automated 
test harnesses.

> The current license requires that somebody who wants to publish modified 
> tests asks permission. (Making and using them is fine.)

It's unclear how this works in the open source world. If contributor A 
takes the tests and gets permission to change them and publish the 
changes, and commits those tests, and contributor B then publishes the 
tarball, has B got permission to do this? What if the product forks? Is 
this even compatible with the more common open source licenses? What if 
someone wants to check the test suite into a system that only accepts the 
mainstream open source licenses, like Google Code?

To make the issue simple: I refuse to license my tests under the W3C 
Document License or the W3C Software License. I would be happy to licenes 
my tests under the 3-clause BSD, MIT, or Apache v2 licenses. There is 
precedent in the W3C for this; the HTML working group's tests are to be 
licensed under the MIT license.

The W3C shouldn't be in the business of encouraging the proliferation of 
software licenses. It's a big enough mess as it is.

Ian Hickson               U+1047E                )\._.,--....,'``.    fL
http://ln.hixie.ch/       U+263A                /,   _.. \   _\  ;`._ ,.
Things that are impossible just take longer.   `._.-(,_..'--(,_..'`-.;.'
Received on Thursday, 10 January 2008 02:34:57 UTC

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