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[ih] Who owns old RFCs ?

On 22-Apr-20 14:34, Steve Crocker via Internet-history wrote:
> FWIW, the ground rule for the earliest RFCs was unlimited distribution.

Fair enough, and that led to a pioneering open access policy, but
those don't affect copyright, which I've always assumed for the early
RFCs belonged to their authors, or - if their conditions of employment
so stipulated - to their employers.

BTW, after a certain time all RFCs said "Distribution of this
memo|document is unlimited". However, this was not included in
the early ones, e.g. RFC768/791/792/793 make no such statement.

John, there were definitely some confirmatory assignments of rights
to the Trust, but there was never a public push to obtain them
retroactively for the older RFCs, afaik.

> Steve
> On Tue, Apr 21, 2020 at 10:04 PM John Levine via Internet-history <
> internet-history at elists.isoc.org> wrote:
>> The IETF Trust, of which I am a current trustee, is finally getting
>> around to updating its dusty old web site.
>> I have to job of figuring out what we can say about rights in very old
>> RFCs, which I realize is a longstanding can of worms.  Here's what I
>> think I have figured out, corrections welcome.
>> RFC 1602 said that all contributions after 1 April 1994 granted a
>> copyright license to ISOC.  In October 1996, RFC 2026 made the grant
>> of rights much clearer, and also specified a copyright notice to put
>> on standards track RFCs, although first RFC with the notice wasn't
>> until 2156 in 1998.
>> In December 2005 the trust was set up, and the Article V of the trust
>> agreement says that the grantors CNRI and ISOC contribute IPR to the
>> trust.  Schedule A lists the IPR including:
>>    All of its rights in, and copies of, each of the following
>>    materials that is currently used (as of the Effective Date) in the
>>    administrative, financial and/or other operation of the IETF: ...
>>    current Internet Drafts and Request for Comments.
>> I don't know what "current" means here but since I am an optimist I
>> hope it means the rights they may have to all RFCs published up to
>> that point rather than ones that were standards at the time.
>> We have a Confirmatory Assignment of trademarks and service marks,
>> nothing more for copyright licenses.
>> The trust agreement sec 5.2 encourages other parties to contribute
>> rights relevant to the IETF, which I assume means copyrights in older
>> RFCs or I-D's or licenses to them.  I have found no documentation that
>> anyone ever did, but it's possible there's something lurking in an old
>> archive.
>> There are a few early RFCs with specific copyright notices from MIT, U
>> of Michigan and Dan Bernstein, and there's RFC 20 which is a photocopy
>> of most of ANSI X3.4-1968 with nothing suggesting that ANSI's
>> predecessor granted a license.
>> I conclude that we have rights to RFCs published since 1 April 1994
>> which would be 1605, 1606, 1607 (dated 1 April 1994) and everything
>> since 1610, which was dated May 1994.  Earlier than that, find the
>> authors if you can.
>> Anything I've missed here?
>> R's,
>> John
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