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RE: Mozilla Proposal for HTML5 Spec Licence

From: Lawrence Rosen <lrosen@rosenlaw.com>
Date: Mon, 11 Apr 2011 14:15:50 -0700
To: "'Gervase Markham'" <gerv@mozilla.org>, "'HTML Working Group'" <public-html@w3.org>
Message-ID: <029a01cbf88d$a30d8300$e9288900$@com>
> So Mozilla wishes to propose the use of the Creative Commons CC0
> License[2] for the HTML5 spec. 

I'm as supportive of the CC licenses as anyone else here, but I agree with the Creative Commons folks that their licenses are not intended for software. So please, Mozilla people, don't try to force the HTML5 spec into a non-software licensing regime. The CC licenses simply don't address any of the fundamental IP issues relating to software.

Here's what the CC FAQ says:

   Can I use a Creative Commons license for software?
   We do not recommend it. Creative Commons licenses should not be 
   used for software. We strongly encourage you to use one of the 
   very good software licenses which are already available. We 
   recommend considering licenses made available by the Free 
   Software Foundation or listed at the Open Source Initiative. 
   Unlike our licenses, which do not make mention of source or 
   object code, these existing licenses were designed specifically
   for use with software. Furthermore, our licenses are not 
   compatible with the GPL, the most frequently used free
   software license.

You can use CC licenses for software documentation, but that's not what the HTML5 use cases concern themselves with.


Lawrence Rosen
Rosenlaw & Einschlag, a technology law firm (www.rosenlaw.com) 
3001 King Ranch Road, Ukiah, CA 95482
Cell: 707-478-8932
Apache Software Foundation, member and counsel (www.apache.org) 
Open Web Foundation, board member (www.openwebfoundation.org) 
Stanford University, Instructor in Law
Author, Open Source Licensing: Software Freedom and Intellectual Property Law (Prentice Hall 2004)

> -----Original Message-----
> From: public-html-request@w3.org [mailto:public-html-request@w3.org] On
> Behalf Of Gervase Markham
> Sent: Monday, April 11, 2011 11:03 AM
> To: HTML Working Group
> Subject: Mozilla Proposal for HTML5 Spec Licence
> This message is Mozilla's alternative proposal for the licence for the
> HTML5 specification.
> Our understanding is that the goal of the various licensing options
> proposed is to prevent the modification and republishing of the entire
> specification ("forking") but otherwise to meet all of the use
> cases[0],
> which request permission for a wide variety of types of reuse.
> As noted, we believe that the ability to modify and republish in this
> way is an important freedom. This message and alternative proposal is
> not intended as a criticism of the work of the PSIG, because licences
> which permit it were expressly outside its remit.
> Those who wish to prevent 'forking' need to be specific - are they
> against the forking of the specification, or the divergence of
> implementations?
> If I were to take the HTML5 spec, make some changes to it, put it up on
> my website as GervTML5, and send a message to the browser vendors
> declaring myself as the new canonical source of web standards, I
> suggest
> that the effect this would have on the W3C and the progression of the
> HTML5 standard would be minor - confined, perhaps, to a raised eyebrow
> and a snicker at my arrogance and hubris. The forking of the
> specification, in itself, as long as the fork is clearly labelled as
> such to avoid confusion, is not something to concern anyone.
> The 'problem' arises when a subset of vendors actually decide to follow
> an alternative spec instead of the W3C one - in other words, it is
> divergence of implementations which is the issue. But history tells us
> that attempts to enforce spec compliance legally, by companies who have
> recourse to law far more readily than the W3C, have been doomed to
> misery and failure - not just for them, but for their technology. As
> Tantek points out[1], the effect of the W3C taking such action is
> highly
> unlikely to be positive for the Web.
> So Mozilla wishes to propose the use of the Creative Commons CC0
> License[2] for the HTML5 spec. This licence is a well-understood
> lawyer-checked internationalized licence from a respected player in the
> licensing space. Its terms and intent are completely clear, and do not
> suffer from the problem of being interpreted different ways by
> different
> people. And, examining the 11 use cases presented[0], by virtue of
> imposing no restrictions whatsoever we believe this licence meets all
> of
> them.
> (If the W3C strongly wishes to have extra reassurance that their name
> will not be wrongly associated with derivative works, then perhaps an
> addendum could be considered to remind users of what trademark law
> forbids.)
> The W3C's authority over HTML5 is due to its benevolent stewardship of
> the specification and to the commitment of the vendors concerned to
> work
> together under its aegis. We do not think that this authority requires
> or benefits from attempts to reinforce it with legal restrictions
> which,
> if actually enforced, would be a negative rather than positive thing
> for
> the web.
> Gerv
> [0] http://www.w3.org/2011/03/html-license-options.html#usecases
> [1] http://lists.w3.org/Archives/Public/public-html/2011Apr/0000.html
> [2] http://creativecommons.org/choose/zero/
Received on Monday, 11 April 2011 21:16:15 UTC

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