Network Working Group                                    J. Halpern, Ed.
Request for Comments: 5377                                          Self
Category: Informational                                    November 2008

                Advice to the Trustees of the IETF Trust
               on Rights to Be Granted in IETF Documents

Status of This Memo

   This memo provides information for the Internet community.  It does
   not specify an Internet standard of any kind.  Distribution of this
   memo is unlimited.

Copyright Notice

   Copyright (c) 2008 IETF Trust and the persons identified as the
   document authors.  All rights reserved.

   This document is subject to BCP 78 and the IETF Trust's Legal
   Provisions Relating to IETF Documents
   (http://trustee.ietf.org/license-info) in effect on the date of
   publication of this document.  Please review these documents
   carefully, as they describe your rights and restrictions with respect
   to this document.


   Contributors grant intellectual property rights to the IETF.  The
   IETF Trust holds and manages those rights on behalf of the IETF.  The
   Trustees of the IETF Trust are responsible for that management.  This
   management includes granting the licenses to copy, implement, and
   otherwise use IETF Contributions, among them Internet-Drafts and
   RFCs.  The Trustees of the IETF Trust accepts direction from the IETF
   regarding the rights to be granted.  This document describes the
   desires of the IETF regarding outbound rights to be granted in IETF

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Table of Contents

   1.  Introduction  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2
   2.  Purpose in Granting Rights  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2
   3.  Powers and Authority  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3
   4.  Recommended Grants of Right to Copy . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4
     4.1.  Rights Granted for Reproduction of RFCs . . . . . . . . . . 5
     4.2.  Rights Granted for Quoting from IETF Contributions  . . . . 5
     4.3.  Rights Granted for Implementing Based on IETF
           Contributions . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5
     4.4.  Rights Granted for Use of Text from IETF Contributions  . . 6
     4.5.  Additional Licenses for IETF Contributions  . . . . . . . . 6
   5.  IANA Considerations . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 7
   6.  Security Considerations . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 7
   7.  References  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 7
     7.1.  Normative References  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 7
     7.2.  Informative References  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 7

1.  Introduction

   Under the current operational and administrative structures, IETF
   intellectual property rights are vested in the IETF Trust
   administered by a board of trustees made up of the members of the
   IAOC [RFC4371].  This includes the right to make use of IETF
   Contributions, as granted by Contributors under the rules laid out in
   [RFC5378].  The Trustees of the IETF Trust are therefore responsible
   for defining the rights to copy granted by the IETF to people who
   wish to make use of the material in these documents.

   For consistency and clarity, this document uses the same terminology
   laid out in [RFC5378] and uses the same meanings as defined in that

   The IETF Trust, by way of its Trustees, has indicated, as is
   consistent with the IETF structure, that it will respect the wishes
   of the IETF in regard to what these granted rights ought to be.  It
   is therefore the IETF's responsibility to articulate those wishes.
   This document represents the wishes of the IETF regarding the rights
   granted to all users in regard to IETF Contributions, until it is

2.  Purpose in Granting Rights

   In providing a description of the wishes of the IETF with regard to
   rights granted in RFCs, it is helpful to keep in mind the purpose of
   granting such rights.

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   The mission of the IETF is to produce documents that make the
   Internet work better (see [RFC3935] for more details).  These
   documents, when completed, are published as RFCs.

   An important subclass of RFCs is standards describing protocols; for
   these, the primary value to the Internet is the ability of
   implementors to build solutions (products, software, etc.) that
   interoperate using these standards.  Hence, the IETF has a strong
   interest in seeing accurate, interoperable implementations of the
   material the IETF publishes.  The IETF Trust grants rights to copy to
   people to make use of the text in the RFCs in order to encourage
   accurate and interoperable implementations.

   As early implementations from Internet-Drafts make use of
   descriptions in those Internet-Drafts, similar desires apply to

   Similar considerations also apply to non-standard, non-protocol
   documents such as BCP (Best Current Practice) and Informational
   documents; in this document, we recommend a common approach to the
   issue of right-to-use licenses for all IETF documents.

   Previous documents regarding rights in IETF documents have included
   in the RFC text specific text to be used to achieve the stated goals.
   This has proved problematic.  When problems are found with such text,
   even when the problem is not a change in intent, it is necessary to
   revise the RFC to fix the problem.  At best, this delays fixing legal
   issues that need prompt attention.  As such, this document describes
   the IETF desires to the Trustees of the IETF Trust, but does not
   provide the specific legal wording to address the goals.  The
   selection, and updating as necessary, of legal wording is left to the
   Trustees of the IETF Trust.  Appeals of the actions of the Trustees
   of the IETF Trust are governed by other documents.  As the Trustees
   are the members of the IAOC, the appeals procedure documented in BCP
   101 (currently [RFC4371]) is applicable.

3.  Powers and Authority

   As described in the introduction, and formally specified in
   [RFC5378], the legal authority for determining and granting users
   rights to copy material in RFCs and other IETF Contributions rests
   with the Trustees for the IETF Trust, which is made up of the members
   of the IAOC, as described in [RFC4071] and [RFC4371].  This document
   provides guidance to that body, based on the rough consensus of the
   IETF.  The Trustees of the IETF Trust have the authority and
   responsibility to determine the exact text insertions (or other
   mechanisms), if any, needed in Internet-Drafts, RFCs, and all IETF

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   Contributions to meet these goals.  The IETF Trust License Policy is
   available from http://trustee.ietf.org/license-info.

   The rough consensus described in this document reflects the agreement
   of the IETF as of the IETF Last Call, and the Trustees of the IETF
   Trust are to begin drafting license text and other materials to act
   on these instructions upon IESG approval of this document for RFC
   publication.  Changes to the IETF documentation, and document
   policies themselves, take effect as determined by the Trustees of the
   IETF Trust.

   This document does not specify what rights the IETF Trust receives
   from others in IETF Contributions.  That is left to another document
   ([RFC5378]).  While care has been taken by the working group in
   developing this document, and care will be taken by the Trustees of
   the IETF Trust, to see that sufficient rights are granted to the IETF
   Trust in IETF Contributions, it is also the case that the Trust can
   not grant rights it has not or does not receive, and it is expected
   that policies will be in line with that fact.  Similarly, the rights
   granted for pre-existing documents can not be expanded unless the
   holders of rights in those Contributions choose to grant expanded
   rights.  Nonetheless, to the degree it can, and without embarking on
   a massive effort, it is desirable if similar rights to those
   described below can be granted in older RFCs.

4.  Recommended Grants of Right to Copy

   The IETF grants rights to copy and modify parts of IETF Contributions
   in order to meet the objectives described earlier.  As such,
   different circumstances and different parts of documents may need
   different grants.  This section contains subsections for each such
   different grant that is currently envisioned.  Each section is
   intended to describe a particular usage, to describe how that usage
   is recognizable, and to provide guidance to the Trustees of the IETF
   Trust as to what rights the IETF would like to see granted in that
   circumstance and what limitations should be put on such granting.

   These recommendations for outgoing rights are structured around the
   assumptions documented in [RFC5378].  Thus, this document is about
   granting rights derived from those granted to the IETF Trust.  The
   recommendations below are how those granted rights should in turn be
   passed on to others using IETF documents in ways and for purposes
   that fit with the goals of the IETF.  This discussion is also
   separate from discussion of the rights the IETF itself requires in
   documents to do its job, as those are not "outbound" rights.  It is
   expected that the rights granted to the IETF will be a superset of
   those copying rights we wish to grant to others.

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4.1.  Rights Granted for Reproduction of RFCs

   It has long been IETF policy to encourage copying of RFCs in full.
   This permits wide dissemination of the material, without risking loss
   of context or meaning.  The IETF wishes to continue to permit anyone
   to make full copies and translations of RFCs.

4.2.  Rights Granted for Quoting from IETF Contributions

   There is rough consensus that it is useful to permit quoting without
   modification of excerpts from IETF Contributions.  Such excerpts may
   be of any length and in any context.  Translation of quotations is
   also to be permitted.  All such quotations should be attributed
   properly to the IETF and the IETF Contribution from which they are

4.3.  Rights Granted for Implementing Based on IETF Contributions

   IETF Contributions often include components intended to be directly
   processed by a computer.  Examples of these include ABNF definitions,
   XML Schemas, XML DTDs, XML RelaxNG definitions, tables of values,
   MIBs, ASN.1, and classical programming code.  These are included in
   IETF Contributions for clarity and precision in specification.  It is
   clearly beneficial, when such items are included in IETF
   Contributions, to permit the inclusion of such code components in
   products that implement the Contribution.  It has been pointed out
   that in several important contexts, use of such code requires the
   ability to modify the code.  One common example of this is simply the
   need to adapt code for use in specific contexts (languages,
   compilers, tool systems, etc.)  Such use frequently requires some
   changes to the text of the code from the IETF Contribution.  Another
   example is that code included in open source products is frequently
   licensed to permit any and all of the code to be modified.  Since we
   want this code included in such products, it follows that we need to
   permit such modification.  While there has been discussion of
   restricting in some way the rights to make such modifications, the
   rough consensus of the IETF is that such restrictions are likely a
   bad idea, and are certainly very complex to define.

   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.  To
   enable the broadest possible extraction, modification, and usage, the
   IETF Trust should avoid adding software license obligations beyond
   those already present in a Contribution.  The granted rights to
   extract, modify, and use code should allow creation of derived works
   outside the IETF that may carry additional license obligations.  As
   the IETF Trust can not grant rights it does not receive, the rights

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   to extract, modify, and use code described in this paragraph can not
   be granted in IETF Contributions that are explicitly marked as not
   permitting derivative works.

   While it is up to the Trustees of the IETF Trust to determine the
   best way of meeting this objective, two mechanisms are suggested here
   that are believed to be helpful in documenting the intended grant to
   readers and users of IETF Contributions.

   Firstly, the Trustees of the IETF Trust should maintain, in a
   suitable, easily accessible fashion, a list of common RFC components
   that will be considered to be code.  To start, this list should
   include at least the items listed above.  The Trustees of the IETF
   Trust will add to this list as they deem suitable or as they are
   directed by the IETF.

   Additionally, the Trustees of the IETF Trust should define a textual
   representation to be included in an IETF Contribution to indicate
   that a portion of the document is considered by the authors (and
   later, the working group, and upon approval, the IETF) to be code and
   thus subject to the permissions granted to use code.

4.4.  Rights Granted for Use of Text from IETF Contributions

   There is no consensus at this time to permit the use of text from
   RFCs in contexts where the right to modify the text is required.  The
   authors of IETF Contributions may be able and willing to grant such
   rights independently of the rights they have granted to the IETF by
   making the Contribution.

4.5.  Additional Licenses for IETF Contributions

   There have been contexts where the material in an IETF Contribution
   is also available under other license terms.  The IETF wishes to be
   able to include content that is available under such licenses.  It is
   desirable to indicate in the IETF Contribution that other licenses
   are available.  It would be inappropriate and confusing if such
   additional licenses restricted the rights the IETF intends to grant
   in the content of RFCS.

   However, the IETF does not wish to have IETF Contributions contain
   additional licenses, as that introduces a number of additional
   difficulties.  Specifically, additional text in the document, and any
   additional license referred to by permitted additional text, must not
   in any way restrict the rights the IETF intends to grant to others
   for using the contents of IETF Contributions.

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   Authors of Contributions retain all rights in their Contributions.
   As such, an author may directly grant any rights they wish separately
   from what the IETF grants.  However, a reader wishing to determine or
   make use of such grants will need to either consult external sources
   of information, possibly including open source code and documents, or
   contact the author directly.

5.  IANA Considerations

   No values are assigned in this document, no registries are created,
   and there is no action assigned to the IANA by this document.  One
   list (of kinds of code sections) is anticipated, to be created and
   maintained by the Trustees of the IETF Trust.  It is up to the
   Trustees of the IETF Trust whether they create such a list and
   whether they choose to involve the IANA in maintaining that list.

6.  Security Considerations

   This document introduces no new security considerations.  It is a
   process document about the IETF's IPR rights being granted to other
   people.  While there may be attacks against the integrity or
   effectiveness of the IETF processes, this document does not address
   such issues.

7.  References

7.1.  Normative References

   [RFC5378]  Bradner, S., Ed. and J. Contreras, Ed., "Rights
              Contributors Provide to the IETF Trust", BCP 78, RFC 5378,
              November 2008.

7.2.  Informative References

   [RFC3935]  Alvestrand, H., "A Mission Statement for the IETF",
              BCP 95, RFC 3935, October 2004.

   [RFC4071]  Austein, R. and B. Wijnen, "Structure of the IETF
              Administrative Support Activity (IASA)", BCP 101,
              RFC 4071, April 2005.

   [RFC4371]  Carpenter, B. and L. Lynch, "BCP 101 Update for IPR
              Trust", BCP 101, RFC 4371, January 2006.

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Author's Address

   Joel M. Halpern (editor)
   P. O. Box 6049
   Leesburg, VA  20178

   EMail: jmh@joelhalpern.com

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