During a tense community meeting at Digital Book World on Wednesday, the executive board of the International Digital Publishing Forum announced that an agreement finalizing its merger with the Internet standards organization, W3C, was weeks away.
Although IDPF executive director Bill McCoy continued to call the merger agreement "aspirational," he acknowledged that a final agreement between the two organizations was near. IDPF board president George Kerscher said the merger would assure that there will be no “fork in the EPUB standard, it will be a rock solid world standard maintained by the W3C and the publishing group within the W3C, and have more resources than we have at IDPF.”
W3C business development leader Karen Myers was on hand to outline how the publishing community will be integrated into the W3C organization. She also outlined a tiered level of membership and dues—the W3C has hefty dues for full membership and access to working committees--created for IDPF members to cushion and encourage their introduction into W3C community.
Nevertheless, McCoy and the rest of the IDPF executive board face continued challenges to the merger by OverDrive CEO Steve Potash, founder of the Open E-Book Forum, the predecessor organization to the IDPF, who has mounted a campaign to block the merger. At the meeting, Postash continued to call on the IDPF to delay the merger for six months to search for what he calls an alternative plan.
Board members declined to delay the merger and made pointed efforts to rebut Potash’s anti-merger claims. In particular, McCoy was forced to respond to accusations made that details about McCoy’s post-merger employment by the W3C and “six-figure salary” (including commissions based on individual IDPF members taking full membership in the W3C) were not communicated to members.
McCoy was emphatic that “there are no secrets.” Although he acknowledged his employment details were not made available to the general public, he said his post-merger employment and compensation was “always part of the plan. ”
He said details about his employment were provided to IDPF members at the time of the merger vote in November 2016. McCoy, who is the IDPF’s only paid employee, said, “I’ll make less money with the W3C,” and the commission plan “will give me a little more money,” if he can lobby former IDPF members to become W3C members..
McCoy also said that more than 50 companies who have IP rights around contributions to the EPUB standard had relinquished claims to those rights to the standard. IDPF is working to make sure that the EPUB standard is a “royalty free standard open to everyone." He said those submitting the rights did so voluntarily and that those 50 companies represented more than 97% of the likely owners of rights available.