W3C announced today an update to liberalize its general document license. The updated license —applied today to all documents the W3C has published under its general document license— permits the creation of derivative works not for use as technical specifications, and the excerpting of Code Components under the W3C Software License.
When writing Recommendations, we want to encourage contribution toward and implementation of standards. We also want to encourage consistent implementation of standards and limit the likelihood of confusion or non-interoperability from divergent versions of a single specification. The updated license works to balance these concerns. Accordingly, this update facilitates the re-use of code, including in packages licensed under the GNU GPL. It also grants clear permissions to enable those documenting software, writing guides and tutorials, and implementing specifications to use excerpts of W3C documents as authoritative source material. The copyright license does not permit the modification of W3C documents to create competing technical specifications.
This license update stems from numerous discussions in the Patents & Standards Interest Group, from experimentation in other groups such as the Second Screen Working Group and the HTML Working Group, and discussion of re-licensing of unfinished specifications. Recognizing that this change may not satisfy all users or use cases, we will continue to seek consensus on options that meet even more needs.