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Re: Seeking for help to resolve the RFC licencing issue

Scripsit Martin Quinson <martin.quinson@tuxfamily.org>

> but on others, one can read:
>    However, this document itself may not be modified in any way, such as by
>    removing the copyright notice or references to the Internet Society or
>    other Internet organizations, except as needed for the purpose of
>    eveloping Internet standards in which case the procedures for
>    copyrights defined in the Internet Standards process must be followed,

These are the standard license terms used for IETF documents, mandated
by RFC 2223, section 11. They are quite non-free.

> I'm quite puzzeled with that issue. For now, I moved my package to non-free,
> but I feel this solution as temporary. I would very appreciate if people
> could help me and contact the upstream author

It seems to be unclear whether the authors of the individual RFC's
have transfered their copyright to the Internet Society, or just
granted a non-exclusive license to distribute under the common
license. In any case, mature standards will usually have so many
individual contributors (including authors of earlier versions of the
standard) that it may not be practical to hunt them all down and get
the text relicensed.

Assuming the ISOC in fact does own the copyright (as the notice in the
RFC's usually asserts, but possibly on dubious legal grounds), the
decision to relicense them would have to be taken by someone quite
high in their hierarcy, at least the IESG. If Debian were to make a
suggestion to change the licensing to a free one, it would probably
be best if it was made by (well-known and respected) people in the
system rather than not-a-DD's like you or me.

FWIW, I have no recollection of such a request being discussed on
debian-legal in the 5 years I have been reading here. I was able to
find an official IESG statement on the reasons for their licensing
practise, at
and the goals explicitly mentioned there seem to be possible to meet
with a free license. However, it is unclear whether the IESG would
think that DFSG-freedom would be of any benefit for them *per se*. By
the nature of things, the RFCs get quite a wide circulation even
without being in Debian main.

Henning Makholm                    "They want to be natural, the anti-social
                                 little beasts. They just don't realize that
                         everyone's good depends on everyone's cooperation."

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