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

From: Charles McCathieNevile <chaals@opera.com>
Date: Sat, 07 Mar 2009 01:30:41 +0100
To: "Philippe Le Hegaret" <plh@w3.org>
Cc: public-html@w3.org, site-policy@w3.org
Message-ID: <op.uqebpftxwxe0ny@widsith.local>
On Thu, 05 Mar 2009 21:15:00 +0100, Maciej Stachowiak <mjs@apple.com>  

> On Mar 5, 2009, at 11:35 AM, Philippe Le Hegaret wrote:

>> On Thu, 2009-03-05 at 14:03 -0500, Sam Ruby wrote:
>>> ... I would like to gather together a
>>> response as a group.  I am planning on attending the AC meeting later
>>> this month, and would like to be able to represent the working group's
>>> position on this matter.
>> Having the response from the HTML Working Group prior to the AC meeting
>> is going to be useful ... W3C, as a SDO, isn't used to the concept of
>> allowing a fork.
> I can understand the concerns with forking of standards, and that this  
> could lead to a failure of interoperability
> 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
> This history tells me a few things:
> 1) Preventing specification forks is not achievable through license  
> terms; a sufficiently motivated party can create a new spec from scratch.
> 2) Preventing specification forks is probably not necessary; the one  
> time it happened, the outcome was good and the effort merged back into a  
> realigned W3C.
> 3) Due to 1 and 2, we should give more consideration to LGPL/GPL  
> compatibility than prevention of forks via licensing terms.

Agreed. Having seen all sorts of forks of HTML already, I think W3C is  
still viewed as the best source of a decent spec (when there is one).

So long as people don't misrepresent their work as W3C's (as Jonas said,  
this can be achieved by trademark to some extent, and by just ridiculing  
people who tell lies to some extent) I don't think the risk of a harmful  
fork is an important consideration.

I think there are people who want to go off and make their own version, as  
we and others did with WHAT-WG when W3C was not working on HTML. But if  
W3C is keeping an eye on the work, dealing with problems that arise and  
working to get things on a sensible track (which is my over-generalised  
view of what has happened since this group started) then I think people  
will continue to push the work back towards W3C as an SDO that has the  
trust of the community, through a relatively mature and open process,  
positive patent policy, and staff who try to get things right.

It is also my observation that attempts to set up some kind of faster,  
more agile, better process end up bogged down in exacly the things they  
intially criticise W3C for having - real broad participation and input to  
develop a globally applicable standard. That just takes time, even with  
the best people working very hard - and there is no intrinsic barrier to  
W3C producing high-quality specifications rapidly, it just depends on  
people doing the work.

Thanks to Philippe for following this up. I think when I attend the AC  
meeting I will also be asking for a move toward an even more liberal  
license that is already well-known. However, as others have noted, this  
discussion has so far been very rapid and not very well distributed, so I  
will be thinking about it and making sure I understand other arguments  



Charles McCathieNevile  Opera Software, Standards Group
     je parle français -- hablo español -- jeg lærer norsk
http://my.opera.com/chaals       Try Opera: http://www.opera.com
Received on Saturday, 7 March 2009 00:31:26 UTC

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