Ecma unveils a more permissive 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, each of which can be adopted based on the needs of a given technical committee, Mozilla said. While ECMAScript is licensed by Ecma, other web technologies such as CSS and HTML are licensed more permissively by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C). 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 ensuring that Internet infrastructure development can proceed independently of any organization, Mozilla said. Ecma’s default license contains certain restrictions against the creation of derivative works, unlike the W3C. While Ecma’s default license terms haven’t been a problem in practice, they don’t reflect how open source should work, especially for something as fundamental as JavaScript, did argue Mozilla.

The default Ecma license provides a definitive document and place to work on a given standard, with the goal of preventing forking. “Mozilla wants to make it easier for everyone to participate in the evolution of the Web, so we’ve taken the initiative to introduce an alternative license for the Ecma International specifications.” The latest version of the ECMAScript standard, ECMAScript 2022, was approved by ECMA last week.

Copyright © 2022 IDG Communications, Inc.

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