[whatwg] Copyright of specifications

Jim Ley jim.ley at gmail.com
Sat Aug 28 04:31:28 PDT 2004

On Sat, 28 Aug 2004 11:02:25 +0000 (UTC), Ian Hickson <ian at hixie.ch> wrote:
> > 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.

So you are acting within WHAT-WG as a representative of Opera, and not
as an individual, is that what you're saying?

> > 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.

>From Opera's perspective certainly not, however from WHAT-WG's
perspective, then all of Operas other stuff is irrelevant - obviously
they as wholly independant from the WHAT-WG can take as long as they
want, I simply asked for you to request an urgent response under your
role as spokesperson for the WHAT-WG work.

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

This doesn't seem particularly open?

> > 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.

No, that is not what I asked, I asked that you had Opera's intention
and lawyer advice that the WHAT-WG documents be provided under that
licence in writing, and if you are able to produce that in a court at
a future date if Opera (or the future copyright owners) decide to
revoke that licence.

> 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
> prevent?

Any successful product has the ability to make money for the owners of
a product in a number of ways, there's lots of ways that ownership of
the specification by a single vendor could be used.

> 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?

The W3C doesn't licence such blanket derivative works of its
specifications, for a very good reason, as to the seperate issue of
ownership, I believe I'd already explained why a consortium that
anyone can join is reasonable protection, whereas a single company in
the industry is something to be more concerned with.


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