Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF)                   J. Halpern, Ed.
Request for Comments: 8721                                      Ericsson
Obsoletes: 5377                                            February 2020
Category: Informational                                                 
ISSN: 2070-1721

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


   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 accept 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
   Contributions.  This document obsoletes RFC 5377 solely for the
   purpose of removing references to the IETF Administrative Oversight
   Committee (IAOC), which was part of the IETF Administrative Support
   Activity (IASA).

Status of This Memo

   This document is not an Internet Standards Track specification; it is
   published for informational purposes.

   This document is a product of the Internet Engineering Task Force
   (IETF).  It represents the consensus of the IETF community.  It has
   received public review and has been approved for publication by the
   Internet Engineering Steering Group (IESG).  Not all documents
   approved by the IESG are candidates for any level of Internet
   Standard; see Section 2 of RFC 7841.

   Information about the current status of this document, any errata,
   and how to provide feedback on it may be obtained at

Copyright Notice

   Copyright (c) 2020 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
   (https://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.  Code Components extracted from this document must
   include Simplified BSD License text as described in Section 4.e of
   the Trust Legal Provisions and are provided without warranty as
   described in the Simplified BSD License.

Table of Contents

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

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.  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.

   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.

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.  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 Contributions to meet
   these goals.  The IETF Trust License Policy is available from
   [TRUST-LEGAL] <https://trustee.ietf.org/docs/IETF-Trust-License-

   To ensure continuity, the starting point for license text and other
   materials will be that previously created by the Trustees of the IETF
   under the authority of [RFC5377] which this document supersedes.
   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.

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
   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.

   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

   [RFC5377]  Halpern, J., Ed., "Advice to the Trustees of the IETF
              Trust on Rights to Be Granted in IETF Documents",
              RFC 5377, DOI 10.17487/RFC5377, November 2008,

   [RFC5378]  Bradner, S., Ed. and J. Contreras, Ed., "Rights
              Contributors Provide to the IETF Trust", BCP 78, RFC 5378,
              DOI 10.17487/RFC5378, November 2008,

7.2.  Informative References

   [RFC3935]  Alvestrand, H., "A Mission Statement for the IETF",
              BCP 95, RFC 3935, DOI 10.17487/RFC3935, October 2004,

              IETF Trust, "Legal Provisions Relating to IETF Documents",
              March 2015, <http://trustee.ietf.org/docs/IETF-Trust-

Author's Address

   Joel M. Halpern (editor)
   P. O. Box 6049
   Leesburg, VA 20178
   United States of America

   Email: joel.halpern@ericsson.com