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Re: licensing of XMPP specifications



Joe Smith wrote:
> 
> "Peter Saint-Andre" <stpeter@stpeter.im> wrote in message
> 471921E2.5080904@stpeter.im">news:471921E2.5080904@stpeter.im...
>> It has been brought to my attention that the current licensing of the
>> protocol specifications produced by the XMPP Standards Foundation (XSF)
>> is not in compliance with the Debian Free Software Guidelines (DFSG).
>>
>> The specifications in question, called XMPP Extension Protocols (XEPs),
>> define the protocols used by a wide variety of Jabber software
>> implementations (servers, libraries, clients, etc.). Some of these
>> implementations may be licensed such that their code complies with the
>> DFSG. However, if such implementations wish to include XEPs or
>> substantial portions thereof in their distributions, then the current
>> XEP licensing will prevent the software from being included in free
>> Debian distributions. This is sub-optimal (especially because the
>> jabber.org/xmpp.org infrastructure is hosted on server machines that run
>> Debian!). Therefore we want to make sure that the XEP licensing is in
>> compliance with the DFSG.
>>
>> The specifications are covered by the XSF's IPR policy:
>>
>> http://www.xmpp.org/extensions/ipr-policy.shtml
>>
>>> From 2002 to 2005 these specifications were licensed under the Open
>> Publication License (OPL). In 2005 we changed the licensing to use the
>> Creative Commons Attribution License (CC-BY) because it appeared that
>> the OPL was not being maintained. However, I now realize that CC-BY is
>> considered to violate the DFSG. (Sorry, I have not followed the
>> long-running controversy over CC licenses and the DFSG, although I have
>> done some cursory research into the matter today.)
>>
>> As Executive Director of the XSF, I am willing to push for a change to
>> the licensing so that the XEP licensing is consistent with the DFSG.
>> Although we need to complete some due diligence and come to consensus in
>> our community before settling on a license, it appears to me that the
>> MIT license would be appropriate. (If it were up to me I would place the
>> documents in the public domain, but that may not be consistent with the
>> consensus of our community or the XSF's intended role as a neutral third
>> party and intellectual property conservancy for Jabber/XMPP protocols.)
>> However, the MIT license talks about software, not documentation or,
>> more precisely in our case, protocol specifications. Is it considered
>> acceptable (for the purpose of DFSG compliance) to formulate a legal
>> notice that is nearly identical to the MIT license but that talks about
>> specifications instead of software?
>>
>> I am thinking of a legal notice along the following lines...
>>
>> ******
>>
>> This XMPP Extension Protocol is copyright (c) 1999 - 2007 by the XMPP
>> Standards Foundation (XSF) and is in full conformance with the XSF's
>> Intellectual Property Rights Policy (a copy of which may be found at
>> http://www.xmpp.org/extensions/ipr-policy.shtml or obtained by writing
>> to XSF, P.O. Box 1641, Denver, CO 80201 USA). Permission is hereby
>> granted, free of charge, to any person obtaining a copy of this
>> specification (the "Specification"), to make use of the Specification
>> without restriction, including without limitation the rights to
>> implement the Specification in code and to read, copy, modify, merge,
>> publish, translate, distribute, sublicense, or sell copies of the
>> Specification, and to permit persons to whom the Specification is
>> furnished to do so, subject to the condition that this copyright notice
>> and permission notice shall be included in all copies or substantial
>> portions of the Specification. THE SPECIFICATION IS PROVIDED "AS IS",
>> WITHOUT WARRANTY OF ANY KIND, EXPRESS OR IMPLIED, INCLUDING BUT NOT
>> LIMITED TO THE WARRANTIES OF MERCHANTABILITY, FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR
>> PURPOSE AND NONINFRINGEMENT. IN NO EVENT SHALL THE AUTHORS OR COPYRIGHT
>> HOLDERS BE LIABLE FOR ANY CLAIM, DAMAGES OR, OTHER LIABILITY, WHETHER IN
>> AN ACTION OF CONTRACT, TORT OR OTHERWISE, ARISING FROM, OUT OF, OR IN
>> CONNECTION WITH THE SPECIFICATION OR THE IMPLEMENTATION OR OTHER USE OF
>> THE SPECIFICATION.
>>
>> ******
> 
> 
> That look pretty good to me. But I note a small issue:
> 
> 
> I'm concerned about the first statement of the licence becoming
> innacurate whem modified versions are distributed. Specifically the part
> about complience with the IPRP. Modified versions might not meet that,
> and then the statment becomes misleading.
> I would suggest considering moving that whole sentence to a seperate
> standalone paragraph. Then people would be less hesitant about removing
> parts  of that that are no longer true.

Good point. I'll look into reformatting the notice. It might make sense
to split the legal notice into several parts -- a copyright notice (the
first clause of the first sentence above), a conformance notice (the
second clause of the first sentence above), a permissions notice (the
second sentence above), and a warranty/liability notice (the fourth and
fifth sentences above).

> But otherwise, it looks pretty good to me. A modification of the MIT
> License seems like a good choice to me, as if a specialized license is
> needed for clarity, starting from a well known and well unstood base and
> making the minimum nessisary changes keeps the effort needed to analyze
> the license to the minimum.
> 
> I am not a Debian Developer, so this message in no way is a statement on
> behalf of the Project. (Although I suspect many would agree with my
> sentiments on this issue).
> 
> I am also not a Lawyer, ergo, this is not Legal Advice.

Sure, the usual provisos apply. :)

> PS: It looks like we may be allowing some stuff under the CC v3 licenses
> into Debian, despite the concerns that have been raised on this mailing
> list. 

Oh? By "some stuff" do you mean

(1) "stuff licensed under certain CC v3 licenses (e.g., CC-BY) but not
other CCv3 licenses (e.g., CC-BY-NODERIVS)"

OR

(2) "some stuff licensed under (say) CC-BY v3 but not other stuff
licensed under CC-BY v3"

?

Naturally my life would be a lot easier if we could simply update to
version 3 of CC-BY. :) But I would still like the license to be as free
as possible.

> However, many of the problems found are still problematic, so
> changing to something dead simple like an MIT-license derivitive is
> still benificial in the long run.

Quite possibly. I need to make the case for change in the Jabber
community, so it's not a done deal by any means. See this thread:

http://mail.jabber.org/pipermail/standards/2007-October/016914.html

Peter

-- 
Peter Saint-Andre
https://stpeter.im/

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