Ray Pelletier <rpelletier(_at_)isoc(_dot_)org> writes:
The redline of the Legal Provisions Relating to IETF Documents dated
9-8-08 has been uploaded to
http://trustee.ietf.org/policyandprocedures.html in doc, pdf and rtf
Thanks for posting an update, Ray.
There are two regressions from earlier versions:
The new text in section 4.c. introduce a regression over earlier
documents. Quoting the new text:
c. License. When Code Components are copied, published,
displayed or distributed as part of a document that is intended
to be read or referenced by persons, and not for direct
processing by a computer, they are licensed under the terms set
forth in Section 3 of these Legal Provisions. When Code
Components are copied, published, displayed or distributed for
direct processing by a computer, they are hereby licensed to
each person who wishes to receive such a license on the terms of
the “BSD License”, as follows:
This confuses the definition of "code component". With the above text,
// increment a
a = a + 1
begs the question whether the code component is intended to be read by
persons or by a computer, and the answer to that question leads to
different licenses for the work.
It could be argued that code in a textual document are intended for use
by persons. The consequence of that argument is that no code in IETF
documents would be covered by the BSD license.
It could be argued more strongly that comments in code components are
intended for humans, and thus would not be licensed under the BSD
license. It is valuable to be able to copy comments in source code into
external code. With the new text, that is not possible.
The distinction of code components intended to be used by persons or
intended for use by computers have not been discussed before. It is not
part of the instructions in outbound-rights-07 as far as I can tell.
Again, I want to quote the instructions given to the Trust about code
components in outbound-rights-07:
As such, the rough consensus is that the IETF Trust is to grant
rights such that code components of IETF contributions can be
extracted, modified, and used by anyone in any way desired.
There are no qualifications of the intended use by such code components
in the instructions.
I see the new text as a "field of use" restriction. The IPR WG have
discussed field of use restrictions of the code license many times, and
the result has always been that field of use restrictions are a bad
Finally, the current text is also internally inconsistent with the
text in 4.a:
a. Definition. IETF Contributions and IETF Documents often
include components intended to be directly processed by a
computer (“Code Components”). A list of common Code Components
can be found at
Thus by definition Code Components are intended to be processed by a
computer, and the new text in section 4.c does not make sense.
Solution to problem
I suggest to remove the newly added text, making section 4.c read:
c. License. Code Components are hereby licensed to each person
who wishes to receive such a license on the terms of the “BSD
License”, as follows:
Without this change, I believe it is not sufficiently clear that code
components are _only_ licensed under the BSD license.
Regarding 4.b. A fix you made to address one of my earlier comments
have regressed. I brought this up in my initial review of the document,
see #4 in:
The problem was fixed in the 07-17-08 version which used this text:
For ease of reference, Code Components in IETF RFCs MUST be clearly
identified as code, and one technique for clearly identifying it is
<CODE BEGINS> <CODE ENDS>.
The text is similar in the 08-05-08 version. However, the text in the
08-13-08 version changed this, and my concern re-surface. The latest
b. Identification. Text in IETF Contributions and IETF Documents
of the types identified in Section 4.a above shall constitute
“Code Components”. In addition, any text found between the
markers <CODE BEGINS> and <CODE ENDS> shall be considered a “Code
The problem is that it is impossible to textually describe that parts of
documents are intended as code components. Allowing this would simplify
reading of documents and avoids ugly markups which can become excessive.
Consider a document that contains:
This sections in this Appendix contains a pseudo code implementation
of the twenty parts of the FOOBAR algorithm. Each part is intended to
be treated as a Code Component as described by
This reads much better than having to use <CODE BEGIN>..<CODE END>
inside each and every appendix.
Thus, I suggest to change the above sentence to:
b. Identification. Text in IETF Contributions and IETF
Documents of the types identified in Section 4.a above shall
constitute “Code Components”. In addition, any text found
between the markers <CODE BEGINS> and <CODE ENDS> shall be
considered a “Code Component”. Alternatively, text in the
document that refer to this rule can be added to denote which
portions are intended to be regarded as Code Components.
You could also revert to the earlier text used in the 08-05-08 and
b. Identification. For ease of reference, Code Components in
IETF RFCs MUST be clearly identified as code, and one technique
for clearly identifying it is <CODE BEGINS> <CODE ENDS>.
One final comment:
For good style, attribute the origin of the BSD license text used. If
the IETF requests of others to attribute origins of work, setting a good
example helps. According to Jorge in
<http://permalink.gmane.org/gmane.ietf.ipr/5379> the source is:
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