[whatwg] Copyright of specifications

Ian Hickson ian at hixie.ch
Sat Aug 28 04:47:24 PDT 2004

On Sat, 28 Aug 2004, Jim Ley 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?

At the moment there is no practical difference.

> > > 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.

I don't see why Opera lawyers would care about what is urgent in a WHATWG 

> > > > > 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?

As far as I can tell, Opera's legal advice is not even remotely covered by 
the WHATWG charter.

> > > 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

Yes; I copied and pasted the license that is in the draft from an e-mail.

> 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.

I thought you said that even with the license, it could be revoked? In 
which case how would this be useful?

> > 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 actually explain one?

> > 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

So what is it you wanted permission to do then?

> 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.

Anyone can join WHATWG. WHATWG contributors are equivalent to W3C members 
in terms of status. W3C _team_ membership, which is equivalent to WHATWG 
membership, is most certainly _not_ open to anyone.

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

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