Save the IDPF. Save EPUB.

Expert publishing blog opinions are solely those of the blogger and not necessarily endorsed by DBW.

idpfWe, the members of the “Save the IDPF. Save EPUB.” campaign committee, are reaching out to the publishing community to update you on our work and ask for your help. We believe that the International Digital Publishing Forum’s (IDPF) reckless transfer of assets to the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) is a threat to the long-term health of the ebook industry.

It’s not a good deal because it’s not a merger.

A few months ago, members of the IDPF were asked to vote on a proposed “merger” of the IDPF and the W3C. To be clear, the planned “merger” is not a merging of the IDPF and the W3C: it’s a transfer of assets from the IDPF to MIT as U.S. host for W3C, followed by a dissolution and liquidation of the IDPF. The IDPF will cease to exist as a trade and business organization. Its assets—its intellectual property, trademarks, logos—will become the property of MIT (the U.S. host for the W3C). This fact was never disclosed to the membership.

In addition, members of the IDPF were asked to vote without being presented with any alternatives. Our committee has drafted a ten-point plan for revitalizing the IDPF as an independent trade organization. The committee has also secured commitments from companies willing to help finance a revitalized IDPF. We think that the membership deserves to know that there is a viable alternative.

Know Your Rights!

The IDPF is in the process of submitting the EPUB 3.1 specification to the W3C. The organization has contacted current and former members who participated in the development of the EPUB specification to secure their authorization for the submission. The authorization form, if submitted by a member, grants to W3C the right to exploit that member’s contributions to the EPUB specification. It grants the W3C “a perpetual, nonexclusive, royalty-free, world-wide right and license under any of [the contributing member’s] copyrights on [the member’s] contribution, to copy, publish and distribute the contribution under the W3C document licenses.”

What the communication from the IDPF does not state is that contributing members have the right to withhold their approval! The original intellectual property policies of the IDPF recite that all patents, copyrights or other intellectual property owned or created by any member shall remain the property of that member, subject to the license the contributing member originally granted to the IDPF to use such intellectual property in EPUB. Members who contributed to the EPUB specification have the right to withhold their approval of the transfer of their IP to MIT as the U.S. host for W3C. The IDPF’s intellectual property guidelines were created to protect contributors from unintended uses of their intellectual property. The leadership of the IDPF needs to fully inform current and former members about their intellectual property rights!

The Time to Act Is Now!

The dissolution of the IDPF as an independent trade organization can still be stopped.

We invite you to learn more about our plan for blocking the transfer of the IDPF’s assets to MIT. Join us for an open conference call on Friday, January 13th at 10:00 AM Eastern (15:00 GMT). Contact us at for the dial-in information.

If you can’t join the call, but want to express your concerns about this ill-advised plan please email us at

Steve Potash (OverDrive, Inc.)
Sameer Shariff (Impelsys, Inc.)
Matt Shatz (Open Road Integrated Media)
Fran Toolan (Firebrand Technologies)

The DBW Daily is the go-to newsletter for staying up to date on the biggest issues facing the book publishing industry and indie authors. To get all the top stories and think pieces from the past 24 hours in your inbox every day at 8:00 AM, sign up for the DBW Daily today!

2 thoughts on “Save the IDPF. Save EPUB.

  1. MURATA Makoto

    IDPF has introduced some extensions to HTML and CSS, but few of them are widely used. Here is a list of obvious failures. I think that they make clear that IDPF cannot extend content documents or stylesheet. I thus support the merge of W3C and IDPF.

    Addition of oeb-page-headとoeb-page-foot properties to CSS
    Addition of epub:trigger to HTML
    Addition of epub:switch to HTML
    Addition of properties from CSS Speech WD to CSS

  2. MURATA Makoto

    I also would like to point out that a two-pronged strategy was needed for the adoption of internationalized layout to EPUB 3. Some of my colleagues worked hard in W3C, while I lead the EGLS subgroup of the IDPF EPUB WG. I certainly think that future extensions of EPUB should be possible without such overhead.



Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *