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RE: [Trustees] ANNOUNCEMENT: The IETF Trustees invite your review and comments on a proposed Work-Around to the Pre-5378 Problem

2009-01-09 12:08:02

 From my perspective, the best approach involves keeping the general  
case simple. The documents that have been transferred outside the IETF  
in the past five years is a single digit number, a tenth of a percent  
of all RFCs if not a smaller fraction.  From my perspective, the  
simplest solution to the transfer issue is to ask the people relevant  
to a document for which transfer has been suggested whether they have  
an issue with transferring it, rather than asking every document  
author his or her opinion on the vast majority of documents, which  
will never be transferred.

Certainly in the IETF as we have known it, situations such as those
described in RFC 4663 have been rare.  If handling those scenarios is
the major focus, then I'd agree with your argument for "optimizing for the
common case".  In particular, corner conditions have a way of being 
somewhat unique (that's why they are corner conditions) so that 
trying to handle all of them in a unified way can prove elusive. 

So overall, the question seems to come down to whether transfers

are likely to become much more commonplace in the future than
they have in the past.  It strikes me that the situations in which
this would occur would tend to be rather dark -- and indeed the
discussion on this topic has wandered into some of those less rosy
scenarios. While an organization (or person) is healthy, it is often 
difficult to muster much enthusiasm for "estate planning" discussions. 

However, even if one considers those situations, it still is not entirely
clear to me that these provisions are required.  For example, over the 
last few years we seem to have made it through a number of wrenching
transitions without requiring this.   

For example, do we believe that the situation described in RFC 4663
is likely to become increasingly common in the years ahead? 
To be blunt, the only scenarios in which that would seem possible
would be "worst case" 

 Remember that this boilerplate affects  
internet drafts, but most internet drafts are discussion documents - a  
fraction of internet drafts even become RFCs, and a small fraction of  
RFCs are transferred elsewhere.

As to the other issues that 5378 addresses, I suspect that a better  
approach will be to fall back to 3978/4748/2026 temporarily and move  
to 5378-bis when it comes rather than to use this very general  
workaround to 5378's issues until 5378-bis is resolved. 3978 etc  
worked just fine for most purposes...

On Jan 8, 2009, at 1:43 PM, Ed Juskevicius wrote:

The purpose of this message is twofold:

1) To summarize the issues that some members of our community
  have experienced since the publication of RFC 5378 in November 2008,
2) To invite community review and discussion on a potential work- 
  being considered by the IETF Trustees.

Some I-D authors are having difficulty implementing RFC 5378.  An
example of the difficulty is as follows:

 - an author wants to include pre-5378 content in a new submission
   or contribution to the IETF, but
 - s/he is not certain that all of the author(s) of the earlier
   material have agreed to license it to the IETF Trust according
   to RFC 5378.

If an I-D author includes pre-5378 material in a new document, then  
must represent or warrant that all of the authors who created the
pre-5378 material have granted rights for that material to the IETF  
If s/he cannot make this assertion, then s/he has a problem.

This situation has halted the progression of some Internet-Drafts and
interrupted the publication of some RFCs.  The Trustees of the IETF  
are investigating ways to implement a temporary work-around so that  
work can continue to progress.  A permanent solution to this "pre-5378
problem" may require an update to RFC 5378, for example new work by  
community to create a 5378-bis document.

The remainder of this message provides an outline of the temporary  
around being considered by the Trustees.

RFC 5378 sections 1.j and 5.3.c provide the IETF Trust with the
authority to develop legend text for authors to use in situations  
they wish to limit the granting of rights to modify and prepare
derivatives of the documents they submit.  The Trustees used this
authority in 2008 to develop and adopt the current "Legal Provisions
Relating to IETF Documents" which are posted at:

The Trustees are now considering the creation of optional new legend  
which could be used by authors experiencing the "pre-5378 problem".

The new legend text, if implemented, would do the following:

 a. Provide Authors and Contributors with a way to identify (to the
    IETF Trust) that their contributions contain material from  
    documents for which RFC 5378 rights to modify the material outside
    the IETF standards process may not have been granted, and

 b. Provide the IETF Trust and the community with a clear indication
    of every document containing pre-5378 content and having the
    "pre-5378 problem".

So, how could the creation and use of some new legend text help people
work-around the pre-5378 problem?

The proposed answer is as follows:

 1. Anyone having a contribution with the "pre-5378" problem should  
    new legend text to the contribution, to clearly flag that it  
    pre-5378 material for which all of the rights needed under RFC  
    may not have been granted, and

 2. The IETF Trust will consider authors and contributors (with the
    pre-5378 problem) to have met their RFC 5378 obligations if the
    new legend text appears on their documents, and

 3. Authors and contributors should only resort to adding the new
    legend text to their documents (per #1) if they cannot develop
    certainty that all of the author(s) of pre-5378 material in
    their documents have agreed to license the pre-5378 content to
    the IETF Trust according to RFC 5378.

The proposed wording for the new legend text is now available for your
review and comments in section 6.c.iii of a draft revision to the
IETF Trust's "Legal Provisions Relating to IETF Documents" located at

Please note that the above document also contains new text in  
section 5.c
dealing with "License Limitations".

If your review and feedback on this proposed work-around is positive,
then the new text may be adopted by the Trustees in early February  
and then be published as an official revision to the Legal Provisions
document.  If so adopted, Internet-Drafts with pre-5378 material may
advance within the Internet standards process and get published as  
where otherwise qualified to do so.  Unless covered by sections  
6.c.i or
6.c.ii, authors of documents in which there is no pre-5378
material must provide a RFC 5378 license with no limitation on
modifications outside the IETF standards process.

The IETF Trust will not grant the right to modify or prepare  
works of any specific RFC or other IETF Contribution outside the IETF
standards process until RFC 5378 rights pertaining to that document  
been obtained from all authors and after compliance by the IETF Trust
with RFC 5377.  The Trustees will establish one or more mechanisms by
which authors of pre-5378 documents may grant RFC 5378 rights.

The Trustees hereby invite your review, comments and suggestions on  
proposed work-around to the "pre-5378 problem".  The period for this  
is 30 days.  Microsoft WORD and PDF versions of the proposed  
revisions are
attached to this message.  Copies are also available on the IETF Trust
website under the heading "DRAFT Policy and Procedures Being  
Developed" at:

All feedback submitted before the end of February 7th will be  
considered by
the Trustees.  A decision on whether to move forward with this  
proposal will
be made and communicated to you before the end of February 15th.

Please give this your attention.

Regards and Happy New Year !

Ed Juskevicius, on behalf of the IETF Trustees
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