[rfc-i] Objection to reworked para 6.d (Re: Rationale for Proposed TLP Revisions)

Harald Alvestrand harald at alvestrand.no
Mon Jul 20 01:02:38 PDT 2009

Apologies for this being a month late.

 From the rationale:
> 4.e -- this new section clarifies the legend requirements for Code  
> Components that are used in software under the BSD License. 
> In short, the user must include the full BSD License text or a shorter
> pointer  to it (which is set forth in Section 6.d)
> Explanation:  The issue of the appropriate BSD License language to
> include in Code
> Components extracted from IETF documents has been discussed extensively
> within the IESG.  The proposed TLP language is intended to be consistent
> with the IESG's latest guidance language, and allows the user of IETF
> Code to include either the full BSD license language (about 15 lines of
> text), or a short "pointer" to the BSD language (about 4 lines). 
> 6.b -- a new sentence has been added to the legend that must be placed  
> on all IETF Documents, pointing out the BSD License requirements  
> described in 4.e above and emphasizing that code in IETF Documents  
> comes without any warranty, as described in the BSD License.

> Explanation:  See 4.e above
The text added, which is intended to be placed on all IETF documents 
(internet-drafts and RFCs), is:

> Code Components
> extracted from this document must include BSD License text as 
> described in Section 4.e of
> the TLP and are provided without warranty as described in the BSD License.

I object to this change.

The reason is this:

- The RFCs are intended to be permanent (as in "forever").
- The purpose of the "incoming/outgoing split" was to make sure the 
Trust had the tools it needed to fix any errors made, or to respond to 
changed circumstances, by changing the rights granted under "outgoing".
- The BSD license is a specific license text, and there is no guarantee 
that there won't be new circumstances that warrant generic licensing 
under a different license in the future.

Thus, this change limits the ability of the Trust to respond to future 
changes; if it ever decides (as an example) to use the Apache License 
instead of the BSD license because some court has found the BSD text to 
be objectionable in some manner, this will lead to all documents 
published with this text to be misleading.

(As an example of changed circumstances - the Wikimedia Foundation just 
changed its licensing terms from GPL to a Creative Commons license - 
this required some fancy footwork to make it seem legal, even though a 
large majority of contributors agreed that it was the right thing to do. 
I don't want to see that kind of trouble in the IETF.)

If the text added instead read:

  Code Components extracted from this document must include license text
  as described in the TLP and are provided without warranty as described in
  the TLP license provisions

I would have no objection. This preserves the Trust's ability to change 

                          Harald Alvestrand

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