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RE: Draft W3C Excerpt License (Re: WG Decision - spec license use cases)

From: Dailey, David P. <david.dailey@sru.edu>
Date: Thu, 5 Mar 2009 18:20:41 -0500
Message-ID: <1835D662B263BC4E864A7CFAB2FEEB3D0152574A@msfexch01.srunet.sruad.edu>
To: "Jonas Sicking" <jonas@sicking.cc>
Cc: "Chris Wilson" <Chris.Wilson@microsoft.com>, <public-html@w3.org>
Jonas wrote:

I'm not sure which exact "that" you are referring to here? It would be
helpful if you didn't top

Yes, sorry, I realized this as soon as I hit send..... 
Jonas Sicking wrote:
>And how many of those do things that are technically illegal under the
>W3C policy? It's just not been a priority for W3C to enforce that
>policy by suing book authors.

Chris Wilson had replied: 

>Nor is it likely a good idea. 
To which I replied 
>It seems that that is not the intent. From the use cases document [quote including specific language apparently allowing those sorts of excerpts].

Jonas continued:
>I am not arguing for a copy-left license. In fact, several people have
>specifically asked for a license compatible with the MIT license,
>which a copy-left license wouldn't be.

Yeah, as I understand it, the MIT license is a fairly permissive license. A long time ago "copyleft" used to mean any of a variety of licenses -- sort of a generic term -- perhaps it has come to take on a more specific connotation in some circles. The meaning I had in mind seems consistent with the Wikipedia entry and seems to include GNUwhich as I understand it is also a part of the MIT thingy. 
Allowing your suggested rewording however, my question remains : Have other specs flourished under a /permissive IP/ regimen? I really don't know the answer, but am certain that others here must know.
While software, public art, interactive literature, and other cooperative ventures may prosper under that collection of IP regimens that I still remain tempted to label "copyleft," has it been tried in the context of specifications? If not, it might be fun to try, but it should be entered into as an experiment complete with assessment forms,  ISO14000 bookkeeping and environmental impact statements (just kidding). 
I found two of Maciej's recent statements on the subject interesting:
1. His notion that we don't want licensure statements to proliferate. My initial reaction was that it is better that they proliferate than that the specs they attempt to protect proliferate. And then this remarkable fractal theory of collaboration began to unfold before my eyes. It was pretty cool: layers of things ranging from web pages to browsers to discussions of specs to specs each overlaid with some level of interconnecting tendrils of IP regimen, and people ultimately pushing content through this webby maze. A tendency to discourage proliferation at one end or another of this spectrum might oversimplify things at first glance. 
2. The notion that ... well I don't see any briefer way to paraphrase so let me quote from Maciej [1]:
I think that in practice, W3C specifications will remain canonical and  
authoritative, not because of licensing, but because the W3C is  
respected as an organization, and is seen as the definitive source of  
Web standards. So long as W3C remains a good steward, forks will not  
happen or at least will not go anywhere. If it fails to be a good  
steward, forks will happen no matter what the license says.

I find this argument really persuasive. It makes me wonder again, just what are we trying to protect against? [2]
Suppose we were to use the corpus consisting of the discussion surrounding the spec (namely all these thousands of e-mail messages) unioned with the language of the spec itself and to bootstrap from the corpus, pseudo-randomly using some sort of Markov process, hence producing thousands of possible specs which could be derived from the concerns expressed by this social process. It is conceivable given random re-focusing of people's attention on certain key votes and issues, and given certain redistribution of talent, knowledge and time, that a near infinitude of alternative specs could be created. Let us presume further that some sort of oracle could select from these possible expressions,  a best possible spec. Suppose that the entire process of re-amalgamizing were illustrated on-screen by a cartoon which at times was thoroughly entertaining to watch. Would W3C wish to prevent that? I rather doubt it.
[1] http://lists.w3.org/Archives/Public/public-html/2009Mar/0139.html
[2] http://lists.w3.org/Archives/Public/public-html/2009Feb/0324.html
Received on Thursday, 5 March 2009 23:23:36 UTC

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