The W3C Community and Business Group policies seek a balance between individual participation and organizational legal commitments (e.g., the Community Contributor License Agreement (CLA)). While W3C has a preference for organizational, rather than individual patent and copyright commitments, people may request to participate without representing their organization’s legal interests. The W3C Staff has the sole discretion to approve such requests, typically after some discussion with the person who has made the request. After such discussion, several outcomes are possible:
- The person who made the request may choose instead to join the group representing their organization. In this case, the individual returns to the “join” page for the group and chooses the option to join on behalf of their organization.
- The W3C Staff approves the request, which causes the individual to be registered as a participant in the group who has signed the CLA on their own behalf.
- The W3C Staff rejects the request to join as an individual. The W3C Staff typically allows the individual several months to respond to requests for more information or clarification before rejecting a request.
If you have any questions about participation as an individual, please write to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Below are some of the considerations the W3C Staff apply when evaluating requests to join as an individual.
- Was the request intentional (that is, not a mistake)?
- Is the person affiliated with a W3C Member? In the case of a W3C Member, only the AC Representative can make a licensing commitment.
- If the person is affiliated with a non-Member and owns the rights to materials the person might contribute, we will usually approve the request.
- If the person is affiliated with a non-Member and either does not own the rights to materials the person might contribute, or does not know who owns those rights, we usually ask the person to find out who owns the rights and get that person to sign the CLA.
- Is the organization aware of the person’s request to participate? Does the person have appropriate permission to participate from the organization (e.g., acceptable under a moonlighting policy/written permission)? Some companies have broad ownership claims to employee work product. If the company claims ownership in the employee’s work, the company should be making the legal commitments.
- Is the person a consultant acting as a proxy for an organization? If so, the organization should join.
- Is the person using an organizational email address? That can lead to confusion among colleagues or other parties about representation and should be avoided.
- Is the group producing Specifications that do not require patent commitments? This is generally known by looking at the mission statement / description on the group’s home page. Because we are not seeking licensing commitments, individual participation is generally ok (though there are instances when the chair has indicated a preference for organizational participation). If not sure, ask the Chairs before approving.
- Does the person work for an entity (e.g., EU Project, or government agency) that has IPR policies compatible with the CLA? If so it may be ok to approve the request.
The W3C Staff may request additional context from the person who made the request and may ask other individuals (e.g., the Chair) for additional context.