After 18 months of negotiation, the Open Web Foundation, a group made up of 106 employees of Yahoo, Google, Facebook, Microsoft, some small startups and their lawyers, today released a legal document template for licensing open web technology specifications. The result could be greatly accelerated time-to-market for new technologies developed on top of these specifications and more awesomeness, sooner, for web consumers.

Standardized legal documents for technical specifications may not seem like the sexiest thing in the the world - but this is actually pretty exciting news. Developments like this could be a key part of the foundation that online service providers need to move forward on a long list of great ideas for ways to serve their users.

What does this mean? It means that other companies will be able to use technologies like Media RSS, OAuth, Salmon, Web Slices and more without fear that unclear licensing agreements will lead to legal problems later. It also means that developers creating innovative new tech specifications to push and pull user data from one site to another can launch them using a turn-key license developed by some of the top legal teams in the business.

People come up with crazy ideas for making the web work better all the time. This agreement aims to provide an easy way to make it safe to implement those ideas. The companies participating have spent large amounts of time and money negotiating the agreement, now anyone can take advantage of the fruits of that labor at no cost.

Existing specifications that will be placed under the Open Web Foundation Agreement, per the announcement today, include:

  • Syndicated media delivery spec Media RSS (currently controlled by Yahoo!)

  • Secure 3rd party authentication spec OAuth Core and Wrap (from Facebook, Google, Yahoo! and Microsoft)

  • Real-time feed protocol PubSubHubbub (Google)

  • Comment aggregation protocol Salmon (Google)

  • Web Slice Format (Microsoft)

  • And several others.