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effort underway to make recent and future RFCs' license DFSG-free

Simon Josefsson recently contacted me to bring my attention to his efforts
to persuade the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF), the organization
that publishes Internet standard documents, of which the Request for
Comments (RFC) series is the best known.

Having read and participated in license analyses of the RFCs before on the
debian-legal mailing list, it's my understanding that the RFCs done when
Jon Postel headed up the IETF were and are under a DFSG-free license.

However, when the Internet Society (ISOC) took the reins of the IETF after
Postel's death, they changed the license to be, unfortunately,
non-DFSG-free.  (A bug about this was originally filed by me a little over
four and a half years ago; that bug is still open and has been CCed.)

Fortunately, the license does not require much modification to be made
DFSG-free, thanks primarily to the fact that ISOC's interest in changing
the license appears to be to guard the value of the names of itself and the
IETF.  That is, they don't want modified RFCs to carry their stamp of
approval when that isn't actually the case.

Several Debian developers have already signed Simon's petitition.  When he
contacted me, I suggested an update to his proposed new wording in the
license, based on the -legal list's experience with trademarks and
so-called "endorsement clauses".  (You can find a high-level summary of
these issues in my article "Managing Debian's Trademark"[1].)  He accepted
my suggestion.

Because there is no delegated body within Debian with the portfolio
"endorse efforts by third parties to achieve DFSG-free licensing on
materials of interest to the Debian Project", I exercised my power under
§5.1.4 of the Debian Constitution[2] to express the Project's support for
his efforts.  Naturally, I am willing to withdraw this support if the
consensus view of the Project is that RFCs published since Jon Postel's
passing should *not* be DFSG-free.

You can read more about Simon's efforts at his website.  I encourage you
add your own name to the list of petitioners if you support his efforts.


[1] http://necrotic.deadbeast.net/~branden/blog/exuberance/Debian/trademark.html
[2] http://www.debian.org/devel/constitution

G. Branden Robinson
Debian Project Leader

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