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W3C re-energizes process for agile enhancement of Web technology and earlier Royalty-Free protection

2020 updates of the Process Document and Patent Policy give a real boost to building the Web

https://www.w3.org/ — 15 September 2020 — Today marks the first day of operation of the 2020 edition of the W3C Process Document and W3C Patent Policy, whose timely updates increase our responsiveness and strengthen our standardization activities by adding a continuous standard development mode and earlier Royalty-Free protection for implementers. The Web Consortium rolls out these operational changes at a time when the Web is increasingly essential as the world goes virtual.

Society is going virtual so it needs a more robust Web that evolves more rapidly

The 2020 global pandemic accelerated a trend for the world to go virtual, making the global Web even more critical to society –in information sharing, entertainment, commerce, real-time communications, and many more. The Web has also grown in importance to industries conducting business online. These trends demand responsiveness and agility from the Web's standardization processes and practices. Today's Process Document and Patent Policy afford us that reponsiveness, serving our mission to provide the key infrastructure for the Web.

The Web Consortium has been working on these enhancements for years, and their adoption now is particularly timely. They unlock agility and afford W3C the means to be a better standards organization and a more effective steward of the Web's full potential, able to do what the Web needs, better and faster.

Landmark standard-making agility to better reflect the transformation the Web needs

Among the changes to the W3C Process Document, the most anticipated ones offer a real boost in helping the Web serve the community:

The Process facilitates updates of specifications to better match the consensus of working groups. By the same token, the W3C Process Document improves maintainability of specifications, including easier revision of Recommendations.

These additive improvements give developers an accurate view of the state of a specification or its implementations, and ensure accuracy of the specifications at any stage, thus removing significant confusion between e.g., the editor's draft on GitHub and the published version on the W3C website, while maintaining the same review and quality requirements that the Recommendation Track currently possesses.

At the level of the standardization process, working groups will no longer be required to bring their entire specifications back several steps for a single line of change. At the level of the robustness and reliability of the platform, algorithms can be updated for maintenance and security purposes, reducing confusion for developers and implementers: the specifications on the W3C website will be the state of the art. For long-running specifications, bringing some of the value of W3C Recommendations sooner means early implementations can safely flourish, smoothing the path to adoption.

Securing earlier Royalty-Free protection while preserving the stable, trusted patent policy

These critical improvements required an important change to the W3C Patent Policy –the first major update to this groundbreaking document since its drafting in 2004 and introduction to the world in 2005– to provide patent protection earlier.

The update preserves our royalty-free promise on Recommendations, making core Web technologies available for RF implementation and use with a licensing commitment from participants. New in this Policy update is to secure those royalty-free commitments at earlier Candidate phases, supporting unencumbered implementation and use even as specifications continue to evolve. This change helps to de-risk Web experimentation and reinforce access to the Web's technology as common infrastructure.

About the World Wide Web Consortium

The mission of the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) is to lead the Web to its full potential by creating technical standards and guidelines to ensure that the Web remains open, accessible, and interoperable for everyone around the globe. W3C well-known standards HTML and CSS are the foundational technologies upon which websites are built. W3C works on ensuring that all foundational Web technologies meet the needs of civil society, in areas such as accessibility, internationalization, security, and privacy. W3C also provides the standards that undergird the infrastructure for modern businesses leveraging the Web, in areas such as entertainment, communications, digital publishing, and financial services. That work is created in the open, provided for free and under the groundbreaking W3C Patent Policy. For its work to make online videos more accessible with captions and subtitles, W3C received a 2016 Emmy Award. And for its work to standardize a Full TV Experience on the Web, W3C received a 2019 Emmy Award.

W3C's vision for "One Web" brings together thousands of dedicated technologists representing more than 400 Member organizations and dozens of industry sectors. W3C is jointly hosted by the MIT Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (MIT CSAIL) in the United States, the European Research Consortium for Informatics and Mathematics (ERCIM) headquartered in France, Keio University in Japan and Beihang University in China. For more information see https://www.w3.org/.

End Press Release

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Amy van der Hiel, W3C Media Relations Coordinator <w3t-pr@w3.org>
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