KML was originally created as a file format for Google Earth, allowing users to overlay their own content on top of our base maps and imagery. It's since become something much larger -- KML has become the HTML of geographic content, the dominant way to share user-created maps online. There are now tens of millions of KML files available online, hosted on more than 100,000 unique domain names. KML is supported by a large and growing number of vendors and products, and can no longer simply be described as Google Earth's file format. Because it has transcended Google Earth in scope, and even outgrown Google itself, we have decided to give it away.
Starting today, Google no longer controls KML. The Open Geospatial Consortium
(OGC), an international standards body, has announced the completion of KML's standardization process. KML has become an OGC Standard, and the OGC will take responsibility for maintaining and extending it. This transfer of ownership is a strong reflection of Google's commitment to open standards. Fundamentally, our interest is not to control information, but rather to encourage its spread.