Eliot Lear <lear(_at_)cisco(_dot_)com>:
We're not out to rid the world of patent-laden work, nor are we out to
make patent owners rich. The IETF exists to promulgate relevant and
correct standards to the Internet Community, and educate people on their
intended safe use.
You'll talk yourself right into the dustbin of history with that line.
I think that would be very sad, considering the IETF's contributions
in times past. But it's where IETF seems to be headed now.
Reality check: Apache has 68% market share. Open-source MTAs handle 85% of
all email traffic. When Meng Weng Wong was thinking about how to
evangelize SPF, his first instinct was to bypass IETF and go straight
to the open-source MTA developers -- I had to lobby hard to persuade
him to go through the RFC process, and now I wonder if I was right to
The ground under software standards organizations has been shifting;
significant parts of the commons-creation function that once belonged
to it have moved to open-source project groups like the ASF or xiph.org.
Nowadays, what the Linux kernel hackers do matters a hell of a lot
more to Unix standardization than anything the Austin Group emits. A
big issue, in this kind of environment, is what traditional standards
organizations have to do and be in order to retain any utility at all.
Certainly it isn't the IETF's job to "rid the world of patent-laden
work". But you'd better believe that it *is* the IETF's job to ensure
that Internet standards are an open commons, implementable by anyone
without fear they'll be raped and pillaged by hordes of attack
lawyers. If you don't embrace that mission, you're soon going
to find you have no mission left that some outfit like ASF or
xiph.org or W3C isn't doing better.
You've had two direct warnings about this -- the ASF and Debian open
letters. They interpreted IETF's passivity on the Sender-ID patent
issue as damage and routed around it. If the IETF doesn't get its act
together, that *will* happen again. The open-source community and its
allies will have no choice but to increasingly route around IETF, and
IETF will become increasingly irrelevant.
I do not want to see this happen. You shouldn't either.
<a href="http://www.catb.org/~esr/">Eric S. Raymond</a>
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