Today at the W3C Advisory Committee meeting, we discussed the document license for HTML 5. We discussed use cases from the HTML Working Group that call for a more open license than the current W3C Document License.
The result of discussion among the Membership is that there is strong support for:
- a license that allows the reuse of excerpts in software, software documentation, test suites, and other scenarios;
- a license (or licenses) that are familiar to the open source community;
- processes that encourage innovation and experimentation about Web technology, so that work can be easily brought to W3C for standardization;
- making the HTML Working Group a forum that is conducive to participation by the community at large;
- ensuring that the HTML 5 specification remains valuable to the entire Web community (see an update from Philippe Le Hégaret on HTML that he presented to the Membership).
In short, there is strong support in the Membership (but not unanimity) for all of the use cases cited by the HTML Working Group except forking the specification. Several W3C Members do feel strongly that the document license should allow forking, however.
People at the meeting agreed that, in any case, copyright is not likely to prevent fragmentation. Several points were made:
- people do not expect copyright to be instrumental to the successful deployment of HTML 5. Quality and market relevance will determine whether the W3C specification is successful.
- innovation and experimentation are valued at W3C. Jeff Jaffe, W3C’s new CEO, has already blogged about the fact that W3C should encourage participation from more developers as they are significant drivers of innovation.
- W3C needs to continue to listen closely to the community’s views on technical direction, including strong objections. Although it may not always be possible to bridge certain cultural divides, W3C must continue to encourage the expression of opposing views and treat them with respect. For instance, Tim Berners-Lee’s blog on reinventing HTML discusses how W3C needed to adjust its course around HTML based on community input.
We have work to do to find the right license to meet the stated goals: to make it easy for people to reuse W3C specifications in almost all of the scenarios people have expressed are important to them.
We plan to work with the community on the details as we move forward. More information can be found in my slides from the meeting. We welcome your feedback.