Ecma unveils more permissive JavaScript license

Proposed by Mozilla, the alternative license for the JavaScript specification allows for forks, aligning with the W3C software license covering HTML and CSS.

ECMA offers alternative JavaScript license
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Ecma International, which oversees the ECMAScript standard for JavaScript, has introduced an alternative license for JavaScript that is intended to be more permissive regarding derivative works, Mozilla said this week.

With the move, Ecma now provides two licenses, either of which can be adopted depending on the needs of a given technical committee, Mozilla said. Whereas ECMAScript is licensed by Ecma, other web technologies such as CSS and HTML are licensed more permissively by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C). The different licenses create overhead for legal review, Mozilla said, which can impact contributions.

The new Ecma license seeks to align with the work of the W3C. Its text is largely based on the W3C Document and Software License, providing a legal framework and guarantee that the development of internet infrastructure can continue independent of any organization, Mozilla said. Ecma’s default license contains some restrictions against creating derivative work, unlike W3C. While Ecma’s default license provisions have not been a problem in practice, they do not reflect how open source should work, particularly for something as foundational as JavaScript, Mozilla argued.

The default Ecma license offers a definitive document and location for work on a given standard, with the intention of preventing forking. “Mozilla wants to make it easy for everyone to participate in evolving the web, so we took the initiative of introducing an alternative license for Ecma International specifications.” The latest version of the ECMAScript standard, ECMAScript 2022, was approved by ECMA last week.

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