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URL Collaboration Work (was: Sam Ruby is co-Editor of URL spec)

From: Sam Ruby <rubys@intertwingly.net>
Date: Mon, 24 Nov 2014 10:05:32 -0500
Message-ID: <5473493C.6050807@intertwingly.net>
To: Jeff Jaffe <jeff@w3.org>, Anne van Kesteren <annevk@annevk.nl>
CC: Wendy Seltzer <wseltzer@w3.org>, Arthur Barstow <art.barstow@gmail.com>, www-archive <www-archive@w3.org>, Arnaud Le Hors/Cupertino/IBM <lehors@us.ibm.com>, "Michael Champion (MS OPEN TECH)" <Michael.Champion@microsoft.com>
Facts that don't appear to be in active dispute:

There were talks in 2012 that broke down[1].  What was discussed is in 
dispute[2].  I was not a party to those meetings.

As of 2014, the W3C Advisory committee is interested in having the URL 
Specification developed in the WebApps Working group in conjunction with 
the WHATWG[3].

CC-BY and the W3C document license are incompatible with CC0, GPL[4], 
and the Mozilla Public License[5].  The WHATWG is unlikely to adopt that 
combination of licenses for these reasons.

The W3C Member Agreement[6] talks about "execut[ing] such assignment 
documents as may be required".  I'm not aware of any such assignments 
being executed.  The work I have been doing on the URL Specification is 
relatively new, and unlikely to be covered by any such in any case.  The 
Member Agreement later goes on to talk about joint ownership without an 
"obligation of accounting".

The Invited Expert[7] agreement specifically calls out Ā«BranchingĀ» as 
one example of a non-permissible derivative work.

Both Anne and myself were and remain employees of W3C Member companies 
during the periods that the WHATWG URL Specification has been actively 


Hypothetical scenario #1: I work on my own, and develop a URL 
specification from scratch.  I make it available using CC0 on 
intertwingly.net and then on github.com/rubys, and do nothing to 
discourage others to build derivatives of this work under the license 
terms of their choosing.  While I have the ability to place this work 
myself into WHATWG and W3C repositories, in this hypothetical scenario I 
take no such action myself.  I believe that in this scenario, both the 
W3C and WHATWG could independently chose to take this action on their 
own.  Anne seems to have come to the conclusion that "the moment a 
non-W3C document enters W3C space, it can no longer be developed outside 
the W3C"[8].  I see nothing that supports that conclusion.

Actual proposal #2: I've described in some detail[9] how a W3C Working 
Group could chose to "shepherd" a document produced elsewhere, citing 
the WHATWG as an example of this, and proposing that the WHATWG URL 
Standard be the first test of this proposal.  Initial read[10] is that 
such a proposal would require no change to the W3C Process.  I am not 
aware of any actual legal agreement that would prohibit such.  My 
manager, my AC representative, the W3C CEO are specifically aware of my 
work in this area.  Furthermore this email, and my work in general, is 

Alternate proposal #3: Michael Champion (and presumably others) would 
prefer[11] a common repository with stabilizing branches, and for those 
stabilizing branches to be licensed under different terms than the 
master[3].  For this to work, I believe that the W3C would need to 
publicly clarify how this would work in the context of existing legal 

- Sam Ruby

[1] http://lists.w3.org/Archives/Public/www-archive/2014Nov/0029.html
[2] http://lists.w3.org/Archives/Public/www-archive/2014Nov/0036.html
[3] http://lists.w3.org/Archives/Public/public-w3process/2014Nov/0157.html
[4] https://www.gnu.org/licenses/license-list.html
[5] https://www.mozilla.org/MPL/license-policy.html
[6] http://www.w3.org/2009/12/Member-Agreement#ipr
[7] http://www.w3.org/Consortium/Legal/2007/06-invited-expert#L118
[8] http://lists.w3.org/Archives/Public/www-archive/2014Nov/0034.html
[9] http://intertwingly.net/blog/2014/11/20/WHATWG-W3C-Collaboration
[10] http://lists.w3.org/Archives/Public/public-w3process/2014Nov/0148.html
Received on Monday, 24 November 2014 15:06:49 UTC

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