[whatwg] Copyright of specifications

Ian Hickson ian at hixie.ch
Sat Aug 28 04:02:25 PDT 2004

On Sat, 28 Aug 2004, Jim Ley wrote:
> > >
> > > No it wasn't, you mentioned at least twice on seperate occasions on 
> > > this mailing list.
> > 
> > Allow me to rephrase. During legal discussions at Opera, the 
> > suggestion of public domain was only brought up briefly during an 
> > unminutted meeting, and was very quickly dismissed as unworkable by 
> > the people who know such things.
> According the archive, that is what you asked the Opera lawyers, now all 
> of a sudden it was only raised in a discussion?  So what was it that you 
> originally asked the Opera lawyers, if it wasn't to get the document 
> assigned to the Public Domain?

Something along the lines of "how do we aleviate concerns that Opera owns 
these specs we're writing".

> > They _are_ "our" lawyers, I'm an Opera employee even in a WHATWG context.
> Yes, and when you act on behalf of one organisation, you are acting on
> behalf of that organisation, and not the other.  So when acting for
> the WHAT-WG, you are not an Opera representative - you made this
> extremely clear in the previous discussions.

Not being an Opera representative for the purposes of the WHATWG charter 
is rather different from no longer being an employee of Opera. Opera's 
lawyers remain the lawyers of Opera employees whatever other organisations 
they might be members of.

> If this has now changed and your participation in the WHAT-WG is as a 
> representative of Opera (ie it's not just a number of individuals, but 
> companies with representatives) then that material change really 
> should've been mentioned.

WHATWG only recognises individuals. Those individuals obviously have 
interests directly related to their employers, whether or not WHATWG 
recognises those employers as members directly.

> > > can you ask for an _urgent_ response, after all 2 months is already
> > > extremely negligent time for what you've described as being very
> > > simple issues.
> > 
> > No, sorry.
> Could you explain why not?

Because I don't see any way that WHATWG's copyright status is "urgent", 
and I don't see how it could possibly be more important than any of the 
other things that Opera's legal team is involved with.

> > > Would you also please request that you are allowed to post their 
> > > response to the mailing list?
> > 
> > No.
> Could you explain why not?


> > I didn't say I didn't have advice in writing.
> No, I know, I asked you to confirm to me that you did - something
> you've still not done - can you confirm to me that the licence given
> to the WHAT-WG and others to use and re-licence Opera copyright
> material is something you have in writing and would be producible in
> any future court case rising from Opera (or future owners of its
> content) revoking the licence?

Yes, of course I have the license in writing. So do you. It's written 
right at the top of every WHATWG spec, and I even sent it to this list.

> > This may surprise you but few companies set up open forums like WHATWG 
> > if they are not in their own best interests.
> Of course not, but Operas current best interest may not be Operas best 
> interest once Nokia has bought them, or once following an IPO its even 
> then shareholders, I don't have a problem with Opera _now_ it's just I 
> do not believe the current state makes any protection for the future.

(Opera has already had an IPO.)

Just for kicks, could you outline how it could become in Opera's best 
interests to prevent whatever it is that revoking this license would 

Could you also point me to the relevant part of the equivalent W3C 
licenses that protect you from such license grant revocation when it comes 
to W3C specifications?

Ian Hickson               U+1047E                )\._.,--....,'``.    fL
http://ln.hixie.ch/       U+263A                /,   _.. \   _\  ;`._ ,.
Things that are impossible just take longer.   `._.-(,_..'--(,_..'`-.;.'

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