Home Google, Yahoo!, News Corp. Team Up on OpenSocial

Google, Yahoo!, News Corp. Team Up on OpenSocial

Google, Yahoo!, and News Corp., parent of the web’s largest social network MySpace, announced today that they had teamed up to form the non-profit OpenSocial Foundation. The foundation has the stated goal “to ensure the sustainable and open development of the OpenSocial initiative and related intellectual property.” According to the three companies, it will work to uphold the founding principles of the OpenSocial project: public community involvement, specifications released under the Creative Commons, and the continued creation of the Shindig open source reference implementation.

The foundation’s proposal says that it will have the stated tasks of creating the structure necessary to facilitate open technical development, developing governance and review procedures for maintaining an open source project, protecting and enforcing IP, trademark, and copyrights, and creating and maintaining the central OpenSocial web site. What the organization won’t do is participate in “directly dictating technical aspects of the specifications.”

“OpenSocial has been a community-driven specification from the beginning,” said Joe Kraus, Director of Product Management, Google in a press release. “The formation of this foundation will ensure that it remains so in perpetuity. Developers and websites should feel secure that OpenSocial will be forever free and open.”

Google hopes that the formation of the foundation with some of its chief rivals will allay the fears that some expressed when it announced open social. We voiced concern in November over whether Google was exercising leadership or control. “Still remaining is the question of Google’s control over the standards creation process. It’s not possible that one of the largest companies in the US and the largest in this consortium would act entirely out of concern for the world at large,” wrote Marshall Kirkpatrick. “You know they bullied everyone else involved into accepting their terms of openness, at least a little and probably a lot.”

Clearly, Google is hoping to distance itself from those concerns with the creation of an open, non-profit organization to assume control over the OpenSocial project. It will be interesting to see how this plays out, especially in light of the possibility of a Yahoo! takeover by archrival Microsoft.

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