W3C Process Document

10 Liaisons

W3C uses the term "liaison" to refer to coordination of activities with a variety of organizations, through a number of mechanisms ranging from very informal (e.g., an individual from another organization participates in a W3C Working Group, or just follows its work) to mutual membership, to even more formal agreements. Note: W3C is one party in a liaison; in the remainder of this document, the term "Partner" refers to the other party.

The goals of formal liaison process described in this section are to:

  1. Enable both organizations to pursue related goals (e.g., technical specifications) to their mutual benefit.
  2. Facilitate development of complementary technologies, possibly resolving mutual dependencies.
  3. Document the commitment from both organizations, in resources and principle, to pursuing work in a particular area.
  4. Coordinate communication about the focus of the liaison.
  5. Allow synchronization of schedules and calendars.
  6. Ensure that technical progress can be made in a manner consistent with W3C's Patent Policy [PUB33], W3C Document License [PUB18], and other IPR policies.
  7. Prevent market fragmentation.
  8. Provide for specific benefits (such as mutual membership) enumerated in the liaison charter.

This process is minimally constraining since, in practice, liaisons take a variety of forms (e.g., the liaison involves W3C process more than the Partner's process or vice-versa). The process consists of:

  1. Liaison creation and modification
  2. Liaison charters
  3. Liaison status reports

Liaisons -- formal or informal -- MUST be coordinated by the Team due to requirements for public communication; patent, copyright, and other IPR policies, confidentiality agreements; and mutual membership agreements.

The W3C Director MAY negotiate and sign a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with another organization. However, before doing so, the Team MUST announce the intention to sign to the Advisory Committee, who MAY appeal. A Memorandum of Understanding MUST be made available to Members and SHOULD be made public after approval.

A list of W3C liaisons with other organizations [PUB28] is available on the Web.

10.1 Formal Liaison Creation and Modification

The Director creates, modifies, or extends a formal liaison by announcement to the Advisory Committee. The announcement MUST include a reference to the liaison charter. Advisory Committee representatives MAY appeal the creation, modification, or extension of a liaison.

Liaisons are not meant to substitute for W3C membership. The formal liaison process is meant to improve coordination with similar (membership) organizations. If an organization wishes to participate in W3C work, that organization SHOULD join W3C.

10.1.1 Considerations in the Decision to Create a Formal Liaison

W3C's decision to pursue a liaison with a Partner is ultimately based on the perceived costs and benefits to W3C. Important considerations include:

  1. Will both organizations make available to each other all information pertinent to the joint effort?
  2. Will both organizations ensure public distribution of intermediate and final versions of technical reports?
  3. Will both organizations respect the confidentiality of sensitive information? Willingness by both parties to protect such information fosters trust and may allow Working Groups to get work done more quickly. However, those involved should not lose sight of the ultimate goal of open and public specifications.
  4. Will both organizations disclose any patent, copyright, and other IPR claims related to the joint effort? What happens when the Partner does not share the same IPR policies as W3C? When it's more strict or more loose? Is disclosure the minimum? How will the organization address patents as part of filling out the charter?
  5. Will both organizations coordinate all public statements and press releases related to the joint effort?
  6. Will both organizations encourage peer review at appropriate/documented milestones so as to ensure compatibility? Agree to negotiate changes deemed necessary by reviewers? Agree to solicit and respond to comments made during periods of public review?
  7. Will both organizations reach decisions by consensus and document objections when consensus is not possible?
  8. Will Members of both organizations commit to representing the parent organizations in work related to the joint effort?
  9. What copyright and distribution policies will govern deliverables? Will the publications be available according to the W3C Document License [PUB18]? Will software be available according to the W3C Software Notice and License [PUB19]?

Reasons not to pursue a liaison with another organization include:

  1. Does the other organization have selective or arbitrary membership policies that serve only to benefit pre-existing or dominant members?

10.2 Formal Liaison Charters

Each formal liaison has a public charter that MUST include all of the following information.

The organizations
The goals of the liaison
Process and policies
Resources
Schedule

10.3 Formal Liaison Status Reports

At least at each Advisory Committee meeting, the Team MUST present an update of each formal liaison that describes the state of the liaison, goals achieved or not, and deliverables produced or not. The update SHOULD highlight significant changes, successes, and failures since the previous update. The Team SHOULD also keep the Advisory Board regularly informed (e.g., once per quarter) of important events or changes regarding liaisons.