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Re: distributable but non-free documents



On Tue, Mar 05, 2002 at 07:02:15PM +0100, Henning Makholm wrote:
> > To quote the RFC copyright notice from RFC 2026 "Internet Standards
> > Process":
> 
> Just for the record, I don't think RFC 2026 is technical
> documentation. It documents a social process, not a technical one.
> But the same copyright notice is found in newer technical RFCs.

It documents the process of how to make an RFC. It also says which
copyright all RFCs should have, that was why I was referring to it.

> > the original dicussion was about the RFC copyright. I still don't see
> > how this license really restricts the user, the things you were
> > talking are allowed. Enlighten me if I'm wrong.
> 
> It says that modification is not allowed "except as needed for the
> purpose of developing Internet standards in which case the procedures
> for copyrights defined in the Internet Standards process must be
> followed".
> 
> That means that if I and a group of like-minded people want to
> experiment with an email transport system where the mail agents demand
> micropayments prior to accepting a mail for delivery (to effectively
> eliminate spamming), we are not allowed to document our experimental
> special-purpose delivery protocol simply by distributing a document
> based on the text from RFC 2821, but with appropriate changes - unless
> we decide to wait and put up with whatever bureaucracy the "Internet
> Standards process" entails.
> 
> Of course, we will be allowed to distribute a document that describes
> the *differences* between SMTP and our new protocol, which in a sense
> is akin to distributing software changes as patches. That means that
> *perhaps*, by analogy, we should consider the RFC's free - but the
> patch clause in the DFSG was always a compromise, and I don't think
> it will do anybody any good to extend it to documentation, now that
> the trend seems to be towards a stricter application of the DFSG to
> software that we've had some years ago.

I think you're right. I don't know what reasons the IETF has for the
copyright policy, maybe we should move the discussion to them. I guess
that they just want to be sure that nobody makes small changes to an
RFC and distribute it as the official document. I agree that such
things should not be allowed.

However, I am convinced that it's useful to allow modification and
redistribution of the documents. When I look at the way the RFCs are
developed, it should be possible to convince them to make the RFCs
free. But I don't have enough time to do that.

Jeroen Dekkers
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