I've tried really hard to stay out of this whole IPR mess - there are only
so many hours in the day - but the point John makes here is so vital I simply
have to chime in and support it.
Now, what I recommend is that we try to see if we can agree that
the three-stage description above is what we intend. If we can
agree, then the _next_ step is figuring out how to get there in
the minimum period of time.
My problem with the Trust's latest proposed policy is that we've
got extensive evidence --including the consensus decision that
got us into the mess-- that the IETF is not good at evaluating
legal documents and theories and their possible consequences and
side-effects. I don't believe that the right way to solve that
problem is to hand the IETF yet another legal document, with
some language and a theory in it that seems subtle, and ask us
to evaluate it.
I believe that the IETF should accept a clearly-stated set of
principles and that the Trust should then come back and say "on
the advice of Counsel, the following text implements that
principle". If lawyers then want to argue about whether the
text is optimal to implement those principles, that is fine with
me, as long as the argument is limited to the relationship
between principles and text and not an attempt to change
principles. Remember that the Trustees do have insurance
against getting that sort of thing wrong; the rest of us are not
insured against either getting those things wrong or against the
Trust doing so.
This is EXACTLY the approach we should be using: Formulate a set of goals, get
agreement on them, and only then ask the laywers to turn that informal
specification into competent legalese.
When Innosoft, the company I co-founded, got to the point of hiring a real CEO
with serious business chops, one of the first things the new CEO did was to
change how we engaged with our lawyers from what was effectively the approach
the IETF has been using to the approach John describes.
The difference was like night and day. Instead of being mired in interminable
discussions with engineers playing at being laywers and doing a crappy job of
it, we divided the task in a fashion that suits the actual competencies of the
players. Process sped way way up and the quality of the product improved
I actually have tried to articulate this several times in the past, but for
whatever reason I couldn't find the right words to do so. I'm delighted that
John has done so here.
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