Membership FAQ

See also the FAQ about participation in groups.

Who can join W3C?

Membership in W3C is open to all types of organizations (including commercial, educational and governmental entities) and individuals. Any entity that can sign the Membership Agreement can become a Member. Members may be either for-profit or not-for-profit organizations. Most Members invest significant resources into Web technologies. They may be developing Web-based products, using Web technologies as an enabling medium, conducting research on the Web, or developing specifications based on W3C work.

Who has already joined the Consortium?

Yes. A list of current W3C Members is available on the W3C Web site.

Is a subsidiary of a Member also entitled to the benefits of W3C Membership?

Yes. The benefits of Membership participation flow downward to subsidiaries of Members. In the case of government agencies and departments, or educational institutions, this is interpreted to include sub-agencies, departments, laboratories, etc. When a subsidiary takes advantage of this provision, participation in W3C Activities must be coordinated through the Member's W3C Advisory Committee Representative. Authorized participants will officially represent the Member organization.

A subsidiary of a W3C Member may itself join W3C. While a subsidiary that is not itself a W3C Member must not make public claims that it is a W3C Member, the subsidiary may indicate publicly that it is the subsidiary of a W3C Member.

A Member may designate an employee of one of its subsidiaries to be its W3C Advisory Committee Representative. This might be desirable when the Member wishes its name to be listed, but a subsidiary is the focal point of all W3C activity.

Can I join W3C as an individual?

Yes, by following the same procedure available to organizations. W3C does not have a class of Membership tailored to or priced for individuals. Indeed, the Membership fee is relatively small compared to the investment being made by the organization. Our processes are designed for organizational participation and we do not have the support structure to handle large numbers of individual members. Public participation in W3C is possible in a number of ways other than as an individual Member. Note that academics who are experts in a field may ask the Working Group Chair to be invited to join the Working Group as an Invited Expert.

Can an organization that has members itself join W3C?

Yes. Membership is open to other organizations that themselves have members ("membership organizations"). In this case, the benefits of W3C Membership generally only extend to the staff and officers of those organizations. Benefits do not flow through to the membership organization's own members.

What is the role of a W3C AC Representative?

Each W3C Member organization has one Advisory Committee Representative (AC Rep). This person should know enough about the Member organization's structure to forward detailed technical reviews to the proper person. It is more important to be involved in your organization's strategy than to have detailed technical knowledge.

The AC Rep receives official notices from W3C. Acting as a gatekeeper, the AC Rep responds to, or delegates response to W3C Calls for Review, Calls for Participation and Calls for Implementations, as well as other W3C announcements. AC Reps come to semi-annual Advisory Committee meetings and rub shoulders with other AC Reps. The AC Rep appoints participants in W3C Working Groups.

How do I find previous versions of the Member Agreements?

A history of W3C Member Agreements is available on the W3C Web site.

If Membership is not for me, can I make a donation?

Yes. Through W3C's comprehensive sponsorship program, individuals and organizations can help support W3C operations through financial contributions and donations of goods. We welcome your support.

Can a multi-partner research project join W3C?

Yes. Below we describe how W3C applies its process to membership by Projects and how they join W3C. W3C also encourages the partners of a Project to join W3C in their own right. More information on participation in W3C by EU-funded Projects is available.

A. Special Conditions of Membership

The target Project for this type of Membership is multi-partner, government-funded, time-limited, and unincorporated (such as an EU-funded Project). The Project is considered a "Membership organization" and participation in W3C is thus governed by paragraph three of section 2.1.1 of the Process Document. In light of the special nature of such Projects, the need to preserve the value of W3C Membership, and the need to maintain the integrity of the W3C Patent Policy, these memberships are subject to the following additional conditions. Note: There is no precise definition of "Project"; W3C reserves the right to review all such applications.

1. Participation

  1. Per section 2.1.1 of the Process Document, the Advisory Committee Representative for the Project may designate up to four (or more at the Team's discretion) individuals to represent the Project in W3C groups.
  2. The Advisory Committee Representative for the Project is responsible for ensuring that Member privileges (including access to Member-confidential information) are only extended to individuals actively participating in the Project and revoking those privileges when an individual ceases to participate in the Project. The Advisory Committee Representative for the Project is also responsible for ensuring that Member privileges are not extended to other individuals employed by entities participating in the Project.
  3. Any Project representative who wishes to participate in W3C must disclose significant employment relationships in accordance with W3C's Conflict of Interest Policy (section 3.1.1 of the W3C Process Document). The Advisory Committee Representative for the Project is responsible for securing these statements.
  4. The Related Member provision of the W3C Process Document (case three regarding an "employment contract or consulting contract") applies (and thus affects voting, for example).

2. Patent Policy

  1. The Advisory Committee Representative of a W3C Member usually makes patent policy commitments on behalf of representatives of the Member. In the case of a Project, the Advisory Committee Representative for the Project is unlikely to have the authority to fulfill licensing obligations for the Project participants in the same way (although nothing prevents Project participants from creating out-of-band agreements duly authorizing the Advisory Committee Representative).
  2. All individuals representing a Project have the W3C Patent Policy obligations defined for Invited Experts. In addition, employers of individuals participating in a Project should make Royalty-Free licensing commitments when the employees are participating in a W3C Working Group. If an entity participating in a Project chooses not to make the W3C Royalty-Free licensing commitment, in practice the Director is likely to exercise his authority to decline to allow participation by the employees of that entity.

3. Fee and Membership Term

  1. The Membership fee to be paid by the Project is the highest that would be required of any participating non-Member entity, were it to join W3C in its own right.
  2. The Managing Partner for the Project commits to a minimum of one year of Membership unless the lifetime of the Project (at the moment of joining W3C) is less than one year. In the case of a Project with a remaining lifetime of less than one year, the Managing Partner commits to Membership for the full remainder of the life of the Project. It is not possible to define a fraction of an annual period and there is no prorata of annual fees. For all complementary questions, the usual Membership Agreement applies.

B. How to Join

  1. Please contact W3C before completing your application to let us know about the status of your Project and your expectations for joining W3C.
  2. To join, there must be a "Managing Partner" for the (publicly or privately funded) Project that is a legal entity. The Managing Partner executes the W3C Membership Agreement for the Project.
  3. In the Membership Application:
    1. In the first section of step 2, list the Project name as the name that will appear in the list of W3C Members.
    2. In the comments box of step 3, indicate that this is a Project and provide additional information about the Project, including the name of the Managing Partner.

When an organization is owned by another, which fee applies?

If one organization (call it "A") wishes to join W3C and is more than 50% owned by another organization ("B"), the Membership fee that "A" pays is the greater of the two applicable Membership fees (for "A" and "B"). If "B" would pay the higher Membership fee, it is thus recommended that "B" join so that all of its subsidiaries have access to W3C Member benefits.

Are organizations required to join on specific dates?

No. Organizations may join at any time. They may begin to participate in W3C activities as soon as W3C has received a signed Membership Agreement and the first year's dues.

For administrative purposes, the Member and W3C agree to an anniversary date for billing that aligns with the start of a quarter (one of 1 January, 1 April, 1 July, or 1 October). An organization may choose to activate Membership as soon as the organization wishes, but billing will be back-dated to the nearest quarter. For this reason, some organizations prefer to delay activation of Membership until the start of the following quarter.

For example, an organization that joins W3C on 10 April is likely to be comfortable with a payment anniversary of 1 April. On the other hand, rather than start on 15 September (near the end of a quarter), an organization may prefer to delay activation of Membership until 1 October to avoid paying for 2.5 "unused" months.