Open Web Foundation Agreement Licenses Specifications for All

Nov 19, 2009

The Open Web Foundation has drafted a public agreement with which creators of proprietary specifications can grant the developer community usage rights.

The agreement allows corporations, employers, partnerships or similar legal entities and individuals to grant each other free usage rights to their specifications. One the one hand it should it easier for publishers of formats and protocols to manage their licensees, in that not everyone needs to sign a separate license agreement. On the other hand the agreement should break up the world of myopic specifications so as to move them along in a more unifying way.

The foundation mentions in their introduction that the use cases for the agreement should "include everything from small ad-hoc formats sketched out among friends to large multi-corporation collaborations that ultimately grow into international recognized standards." The text of the agreement is not particularly long. Agreement grantors can simply provide downloads, for example. It also allows limiting existing usage rights to certain versions of the specification, including the right to create and sell derivatives.

The agreement is to be the first step in an open specification process that follows the open source developer model, at least as promised at the founding of the Open Web Foundation at last year's OSCON conference. In the next few months, the foundation also promises a general, reusable Contributor License Agreement that not only recycles specifications, but addresses contributions at earlier stages of specification development.

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