Proposed license for IETF Contributions

James Bailie jimmy at
Sun Nov 20 17:38:22 GMT 2005

Ted Mittelstaedt wrote:

 >   You might check this but I believe that the Copyright convention
 > specifically
 > excepts "specifications" from copyright coverage.  I think there's some
 > other
 > classes of original work that fall under this.  How about simply
 > rewriting the
 > ITEF license to designate any RFC as the complete RFC is a specification,
 > and therefore uncopyrightable.

I'm not a lawyer, but I strongly believe under the Berne
convention RFCs have copyright.  The technical details described
in an RFC may be protected by other IP laws, such as patent law
for example, if the originator chose to patent those details, but
the text of the RFC document itself, describing those details, is
an original composition which satisfies the terms of the
convention.  The only means of rescinding copyright is for the
copyright owner to explicitly place the work into the public

Simon's proposed license seems reasonable to me.  It is
essentially a BSD-style license, allowing royalty-free
redistribution and modification, but with a difference when it
comes to attribution.  Original unmodified text from a
specification must contain an attribution to the source document,
while any modified versions (which may contain inaccuracies) have
to have all references to the source organizations removed.

The Berne convention is online, at the WIPO site:

James Bailie <jimmy at>

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