Author: Joseph Reagle
Audience: Class of
Harvard STP307: The Internet: Business, Law and Strategy
Question: How do the Internet standards setting institutions work and what are the
differences and the resulting implications?
- Scott Bradner. "The
IETF." from Open Sources: Voices from the Open Source Revolution.
- Joseph Reagle. Why The
Internet is Good: Community Governance That Works Well. (19990326)
The W3C (and IETF)
Joseph M. Reagle Jr. (W3C/LCS/MIT)
- Joint IETF/W3C XML Signatures Co-Chair
- Contributed to evolution of process
(proposed the Candidate REC level similar to IETF Proposed Standard).
- Contributed to the W3C copyright licenses.
- "The W3C was founded in October 1994 to lead the World Wide Web to its full
potential by developing common protocols that promote its evolution and ensure its
- Hosted by MIT, INRIA,
Keio. (W3C is fictitious like the IETF.)
- The Consortium is led by Tim
Berners-Lee, Director and creator of the World Wide Web, and Jean-François Abramatic,
- W3C is funded by Member
organizations, EC, DARPA, and is vendor neutral, working with the global community to
produce specifications and reference software that is made freely available throughout the
Working Groups (WGs) consist of individuals from
- ~400 Member Organizations
- ~Liason institutions or individual invited experts
||ietf-draft/authors group (can be competitive)
||calls between authors and list
||conference calls (minuted) and list
||technical reports (<= 3 months)
There are substantive cultural differences:
- the level of coordination between WGs.
- the use of paid staff
- the use of teleconferences.
- the time frame and length (maturity) for specification advancement.
- the use of ASCII versus HTML/XML (and philosophy of URIs)
(All of this happens during many iterations of public drafts.)
- WG Last Call: does the WG feel its satisfied its requirements and that all open
issues have been closed (and minority views documented).
- W3C Last Call: does the WG deliverables satisfy dependent WGs (users of the spec, WAI
(accessible content), I18N (internationalization), etc.)
- W3C Candidate REC: is the specification being implemented by the community?
- Director (helped by Team) reviews all technical comments, requirements, and
dependencies, advances to the Advisory Committee as Proposed REC.
- Advisory Committee "votes" to inform Director as to whether make it a REC.
(Does the W3C Recommend this as a useful thing for the Web?)
W3C Intellectual Property
- Submission authors may retain copyright but must be redistributable under W3C license.
- WG product copyright is owned by "W3C."
- Encourage free and/or reasonable patent licensing -- contentious and difficult issue.
W3C/IETF Characteristics of Technical Policy