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Re: ISSUE-27: rel-ownership - Chairs Solicit Proposals

From: Roy T. Fielding <fielding@gbiv.com>
Date: Fri, 22 Jan 2010 23:02:27 -0800
Cc: Mark Nottingham <mnot@mnot.net>, Paul Cotton <Paul.Cotton@microsoft.com>, Maciej Stachowiak <mjs@apple.com>, "public-html@w3.org" <public-html@w3.org>
Message-Id: <83BCF6BE-B996-4A72-841C-A1DEBF0619FF@gbiv.com>
To: Henri Sivonen <hsivonen@iki.fi>
On Jan 22, 2010, at 2:10 AM, Henri Sivonen wrote:
> On Jan 22, 2010, at 04:20, Roy T. Fielding wrote:
> 
>> On Jan 20, 2010, at 11:56 PM, Henri Sivonen wrote:
>>> On Jan 21, 2010, at 01:03, Mark Nottingham wrote:
>>> 
>>>> - The registry will be available in a machine-readable form, so that people can incorporate it in validators, etc. The machine-readable form is NOT available on the Web (to avoid load issues, such as those seen with W3C's DTD hosting); rather, they're available on a mailing list, so that vendors can redistribute it as they see fit.
>>> 
>>> When you say redistribute as they see fit, do you mean only verbatim redistribution or also distribution under a Free Software license if a vendor so sees fit?
>> 
>> This is not a relevant concern.  Registries are not copyrightable
>> for the same reason that phone listings are not copyrightable
>> (without the addition of significant new work that would justify
>> an exclusive creative right).
> 
> I'm not a lawyer. As I lay person, I find your point persuasive as far as U.S law goes. Unfortunately, the situation is not the same for the EU countries, where there are rights to databases and listings. I'm located in an EU country and the EU is a significant software market, so I find this relevant.

No, there are copyrights in creative work.  If IANA's (or, in this case,
the Internet Trust's) employees were creating the database and organizing
it in a way that was creative (not alphabetical), then that might be
considered copyrightable as a whole database in some countries. However,
they are not doing so and you are not copying the entire database,
so this concern is not relevant.  IANA does not own the copyright of
the individual entries nor the collection of those entries in
alphabetical order, so therefore cannot license it to you regardless
of their terms.  They are simply repeating the same IETF boilerplate
terms that you can find in all of the RFCs, and those terms do not
in any way restrict your ability to write free software because
they don't actually apply to the operable aspects of a protocol.
What the Internet Trust is actually copyrighting is the final format
of the RFC or registry web page -- the bits outside the protocol
definitions that give the document an air of authenticity.

[This is a separate issue from the copyright on code examples
within a spec, which is actually owned by the RFC authors.]

> If the IANA believed their registries aren't copyrightable, surely the IANA could explicitly say that they reserve no rights without losing anything. Instead they stipulate non-Free conditions for distribution.

That is irrelevant.  You are not redistributing the entire registry.
You are making use of the database values as published.  Those values
are operational interface definitions and not copyrightable in any
country that I know of (including all of Europe).  It would be impossible
to legally distribute any Internet software if that were not the case.
Furthermore, we are talking about the Internet Trust here, which is
obviously not going to be suing you in a Finland court for implementing
Internet software along the lines envisioned by the IETF.  It's whole
purpose is to promote such implementations.

> This reminds me of W3C staff arguing that the W3C Document License doesn't need to permit certain things explicitly because they are Fair Use. (Fair Use being a U.S.-specific legal defense in a copyright infringement suit.) If you want to allow something, you should just allow it instead of officially prohibiting it and informally suggesting a way to defend violations of the prohibition in a U.S. court.

It is impossible to write a license that is inclusive of every
political and legal system on the planet, nor is it necessary
to do so.  As an open source developer (and author of the Apache
License 2.0), I can appreciate how software developers can get
tripped up by copyright issues.  However, there is no need to
worry about the license attached to a simple registry.  What we
do need to worry about is its long-term stability and availability.
That's why we created entities like the Internet Trust.

....Roy
Received on Saturday, 23 January 2010 07:03:00 GMT

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