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Re: Question about GPL and DFSG Compatibility of a Proposed Amendment to the W3C Document Licence

On Thu, 28 Apr 2011 at 13:27:48 +0200, Lachlan Hunt wrote:
> This would seem to imply a field of use restriction
> against anything that is not covered by those 3 exceptions.  In
> particular, this does not explicitly permit others to fork the
> specification.

It seems from the linked pages that one goal of the W3C's current non-Free
document licensing is to prevent third parties from forking (say) the CSS3
spec, making random changes (potentially incompatible ones), and publishing
the result (as "FooCorp CSS 4", perhaps). RFCs have a similar policy and it
presents similar problems <http://josefsson.org/bcp78broken/> (although
recent RFCs use a BSD-style license for code fragemnts, avoiding some of the
bad effects of BCP78).

I can see why the W3C needs to discourage forks of its standards, and in
particular, avoid misrepresentation of modified versions as the original or
W3C-approved version, but I don't think copyright is necessarily the right
way to achieve this: making it illegal to distribute modified versions seems
a much "bigger hammer" than is necessary. Holding and enforcing a trademark
on the W3C name (as W3C indeed does) seems a more appropriate mechanism?

There's nothing to stop a vendor embracing-and-extending a W3C standard
without making verbatim copies of any of the W3C's spec wording (e.g. each
major browser supports a HTML-like markup language consisting of a W3C-HTML
subset plus browser extensions), so it's not clear to me that using copyright
like this is particularly effective either.

It seems particularly perverse to take legal measures to prevent forking when
a reimplemented description of HTML5 is available under a much more
permissive license from WHATWG...


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