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RE: Mozilla Proposal for HTML5 Spec Licence

From: Henri Sivonen <hsivonen@iki.fi>
Date: Wed, 13 Apr 2011 10:00:40 +0300
To: Lawrence Rosen <lrosen@rosenlaw.com>
Cc: 'HTML Working Group' <public-html@w3.org>, 'PSIG' <member-psig@w3.org>
Message-ID: <1302678040.2569.133.camel@shuttle>
On Tue, 2011-04-12 at 11:34 -0700, Lawrence Rosen wrote:
> In real life, however, nobody important is actually trying to fork the W3C HTML5 specification.

Not at this very moment, no. But the permission to fork is about
long-term insurance against unfortunate future events.

>From the past data we know that in June 2004 the W3C Members held a vote
to prevent the HTML5 work inside the W3C and as a result, the WHATWG
forked HTML in the conceptual sense but had to do it by re-expressing
things from scratch instead of reusing existing spec text.

If at a future date the W3C Members held a vote to prevent HTML work at
the W3C once again, it would be very unfortunate to have to write a
re-expression of all the functionality from scratch again.

My personal view is that wanting to deny the long-term insurance against
unfortunate events is a sign of doubt about the W3C Membership's trust
in the W3C being able to avoid the reoccurrence of an unfortunate
situation where such insurance would be useful. And when the Membership
doesn't trust enough its own ability to steer the W3C in the future in a
way that makes question of forking moot by not causing circumstances
requiring a fork, I think it's all the more important to maintain the
permission to fork by reusing text.

Also note that decisions not to work on something at the W3C have taken
place more recently than June 2004. In 2009, the W3C decided to stop
working on XHTML 2.0. While I applaud the decision to stop spending W3C
resources on XHTML 2.0, I think it would be bad to use copyright to
prevent the people who worked on XHTML 2.0 from taking their spec text
and continuing the work at another venue if they wanted to continue the
work (without claiming it's W3C work), because if something I had been
working on got axed by the W3C and I still believed the work was worth
continuing, I'd want to have the opportunity to continue.

Henri Sivonen
Received on Wednesday, 13 April 2011 07:01:14 UTC

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