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Founded in 1994 to develop common protocols for the evolution of the World Wide Web, the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) is an international association of industrial and service companies, research laboratories, educational institutions, and organizations of all sizes. All of these organizations share a compelling interest in the long term evolution and stability of the World Wide Web (Web).
W3C is a non-profit organization funded partly by commercial members. Its activities remain vendor neutral, however. W3C also receives the support of governments who consider the Web the platform of choice for a global information infrastructure.
W3C was originally established in collaboration with CERN, birthplace of the Web, with support from DARPA and the European Commission.
W3C's mission is to lead the evolution of the Web -- the universe of information accessible through networked computers.
W3C's long term goals are:
Integral to the W3C process is the notion of consensus. The W3C process requires those who are considering an issue to address all participants' views and objections and strive to resolve them. Consensus is established when substantial agreement has been reached by the participants. Substantial agreement means more than a simple majority, but not necessarily unanimity. While unanimity is preferred, it is not practical to require that Working Groups, for example, reach unanimity on all issues. In some circumstances, consensus is achieved when the minority no longer wishes to articulate its objections. When disagreement is strong, the opinions of the minority are recorded in appropriate documents alongside those of the majority.
Groups strive to reach consensus in order to provide a single solution acceptable to the market at large. If a group makes a decision that causes the market to fragment -- despite agreement by those participating in the decision -- the decision does not reflect a single market and therefore the group has failed to reach true consensus.
Please also refer to the discussion of Working Group consensus and votes.
All W3C technical reports and software are made available free of charge to the general public (refer to the W3C document notice [PUB18]). This policy comes from the core goal of W3C to keep the Web as one and is part of the Membership agreement. Moreover, to ensure that its results are acceptable to the general public and to promote trial implementations, W3C may call for public comments about working drafts and software releases.
W3C promotes an open working environment. Whenever possible, technical decisions should be made unencumbered by intellectual property right (IPR) claims. To this end, W3C discloses to the entire Membership all IPR claims made by Members. Members may disclose IPR claims at any time. Members disclose patent and other IPR claims by sending email to an archived mailing list that is readable by Members and the Team: firstname.lastname@example.org. Members must disclose all IPR claims to this mailing list but they may also copy other recipients. For instance, they should copy the Activity Lead responsible for a particular technology to ensure that the IPR claims receive prompt consideration.
Advisory Committee representatives are responsible for facilitating communication with IPR contacts in their organization. When disclosing IPR claims, individuals should therefore copy their Advisory Committee representative.
Member disclosures of IPR claims about a particular subject should include the following language:
To the best of my knowledge, I believe my organization has/doesn't have IPR claims regarding [subject].
Members are encouraged to disclose their claims in detail whenever possible.
Announcements, important documents, and frequently visited Web pages should remind Members to disclose IPR claims. Important places of interaction include: Activity proposals and briefing packages, calls for participation in groups and their charters, the Member home page, Activity home pages, and Group home pages.
Invited experts are required to disclose IPR claims in the same manner as individuals from Member organizations.
There are three qualities an individual must possess in order to join the W3C Team or participate in a W3C Activity (e.g., act as a Chair, editor, etc.):
Advisory Committee representatives who nominate individuals for participation in W3C Activities are responsible for assessing and attesting to the qualities of participants from their organization.
Individuals participating in a W3C Activity (e.g., within a Working Group) represent not only their own ideas but also the interests of the companies or organizations with which they have relationships. As these companies and organizations are often Members of W3C, all participants in a W3C Activity should clearly disclose, as is customary, the financial interests and affiliations they have with W3C Members. These disclosures should be kept up-to-date as the individual's professional relationships and W3C Membership evolve.
The ability of an individual to fulfill a role within a group without risking a conflict of interests is clearly a function of the individual's affiliations. When these affiliations change, the role in question must be reassigned, possibly to the same individual, according to the process appropriate to the role.
When an individual accepts a role as Chair or editor, the Member organization that employs that individual recognizes that this work as unbiased officer of the Group is done as part of the individual's work for the Member.