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Re: Proposed license for IETF Contributions

On Thu, Dec 08, 2005 at 07:02:19PM +0100, Simon Josefsson wrote:
> A member of the IPR WG proposed to require that people modifying RFCs
> would be required to add a "warning label".  He suggested the
> following license.  Would this be DFSG free?  I believe it would be.
> It appears to be an extreme form of statements such as "clearly label
> modified works as being modified", which I believe is permitted.

The fact that a restriction is allowed should not imply that an extreme
form of the restriction should also be allowed.  Extremes are usually
bad things ...

For example, "include the following acknowledgement text in the
documentation:" is generally considered obnoxious, but DFSG-free--but
if the text was a whole paragraph, rather than the typical one or two
lines, it might not be.  (I think ReiserFS tried something like that,
wanting to require something like a full page of endorsement acks
be displayed from the tools.)

>          "Warning: This text describes a derrivative of the
>          standard defined in RFCXXXX; the reader should be warned
>          that this modified work may not operate in a way that is
>          compatible with the protocol defined in RFCXXXX, and that
>          using this modified work could result in incompatability
>          with RFCXXXX, and thus fail to interoperate properly with
>          compliant implementations of RFCXXX. Therefore, the reader
>          is strongly urged to carefully review this documentation
>          and the code it accompanies, to determine where this
>          implemention is potentially incompatible with RFCXXX, and
>          determine if such differences with RFCXXXX (if they exist)
>          are acceptable."

It's one thing to have to not claim that my derived work is RFCXXX; it's
another to be forced to smear it with what reads as "warning: this documentation
is bogus, use it at your peril!".  I'm leery but undecided.

Also, I might create a new spec using excerpts from several others; a
few sections from one, a few from another.  I'd have to include this text
several times.

The usual practical issues with translations apply here, too--if I
translate the whole document, I can't translate this.  (Review of the
GFDL discussions about "invariant sections" might reveal other problems;
I'm not sure.)

>          In addition, any unauthorized redistributed modified
>          works must not claim endorsement of the modified work by
>          the IETF, IESG, IANA, IAB, ISOC, RFC Editor, or any
>          similar organization, and remove any claims of status as
>          an Internet Standard, e.g., by removing the RFC
>          boilerplate.

You've given permission to redistribute modified works, so they aren't
unauthorized.  I think this is saying "unauthorized" when it means
something like "unendorsed".

This seems to prohibit people from claiming endorsement of the modified
work by any standards organization at all (a "similar organization"),
even ones not listed--even if it has it.

Isn't it already illegal to claim endorsement that you don't have?
Shouldn't it be enough to add a non-binding footnote saying as much:
"if you modify this, you don't have our endorsement, so don't claim it",
and use those existing laws to enforce it, rather than trying to bend
copyright to do so?

Glenn Maynard

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