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

Harald Alvestrand harald at alvestrand.no
Tue Jul 21 23:32:38 PDT 2009

Robert Elz wrote:
>     Date:        Tue, 21 Jul 2009 18:40:52 +0200
>     From:        Harald Alvestrand <harald at alvestrand.no>
>     Message-ID:  <4A65EF94.2050409 at alvestrand.no>
>   | I'm afraid that your perception disagrees with the structure that RFC 
>   | 5378 set up.
> I was misunderstanding what's going on, Joel has been educating me off list...
> But while my reasoning changes slightly, my conclusion does not.
>   | The Trust has enough rights to license code under a license 
>   | of its choice, and has currently chosen to use the BSD license.
> I think we can agree that the trust (the IETF) cannot give away more
> rights than it has obtained from the contributor (however much they are,
> and if that's "everything related to copyright" that's fine).
> I can think of no reason why the trust (IETF) should ever offer less
> than what the contributor has allowed - that would be entirely contrary
> to the purposes for which we need licences from the contributor in the
> first place - the aim is to make sure that the code is available with
> as few restrictions as possible, having the trust add restrictive licence
> terms would be counter productive (regardless of what those terms are).
The working group's non-consensus on this point is documented in section 
4.4 of RFC 5377:

4.4.  Rights Granted for Use of Text from IETF Contributions

   There is no consensus at this time to permit the use of text from
   RFCs in contexts where the right to modify the text is required.  The
   authors of IETF Contributions may be able and willing to grant such
   rights independently of the rights they have granted to the IETF by
   making the Contribution.

> If all that's reasonable, then it follows that licence in == licence out,
> and while it is possible that might be change from time to time, the
> change must be to the licence in first, and that then means that the
> licence out change affects only those RFCs published after the change,
> one earlier must still be on the old terms (if the change was broadening
> the licence to the IETF, then no earlier submission by anyone would be
> broader in the new way, and so the outgoing licence could not be the new
> broader form, if the change is to narrow the rights given to the IETF,
> that will necessarily narrow what the IETF can grant users of the code,
> but there's no reason it should restrict the rights granted under older
> submissions, that were published with a broader grant to the IETF.
The "RFC 5378" license to the trust allows, for instance, the Trust to 
grant the right of copying small snippets of code without attaching the 
full BSD license to them. The current TLP does not give that right.

Incoming and outgoing rights for code are currently different.
> So, I remain fairly convinced that there's no need at all to ever
> make (or pretend to make) any change which would ever require updating all
> past RFCs, a change should only ever affect future publications.
I'm fairly convinced that there will come a time when we need to 
relicense text that was previously licensed by the Trust in a way that 
is more liberal than the current text of the TLP allows for (while 
remaining within the scope of rights granted to the trust).

That's why I yell so much on this matter.


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