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[ih] Who owns old RFCs ?

I am really glad that you asked this question.

First off, I would be willing and happy to sign some sort of copyright 
quitclaim of any copyright rights I might have in any RFC (or other IETF 
material).  If we can't resurrect the one that we previously used, I 
think that the Free Software folks may have a baseline document for 
doing this kind of thing.

Second - someone ought to look at the rules that apply in places other 
then the US.  Some of the older RFCs may be slipping into the public 
domain or need some sort of renewal process.

This stuff is far from simple; there are flow charts floating around the 
US copyright lawyer community - and they are surprisingly complicated 
and filled with dates and odd distinctions.  (Good thing we are dealing 
with textual materials and not music - the distinctions there are mind 

Personally I like having IETF or someone hold a copyright right rather 
than the RFCs falling into the public domain.  This is not that there 
would be restrictions or controls, but rather that there would be some 
potential (even if largely conjectural) lever should deviant versions be 
published or wrong claims of authorship made.

As John Gilmore mentions, we might not be able to fully pull the rights 
together.  But even a partial gathering would be better than nothing.  I 
like John G's suggestion of asserting "nobody owns it", but I've seen 
too many good ideas get hosed in the copyright area to trust that boldly 
asserting would be a safe or sufficient course of action.  (If anybody 
want's an example, look at the mess about the Java API's in the Google 
vs Oracle lawsuit.)

(And, there is, of course, the fairly recent decision in the US that 
makes it clear that before any enforcement action can begin, the 
copyright has to be registered - by the ones who hold the copyright. 
Because of the legal goodies that registration provides, it could be 
advisable that the IETF Trust follow the path being taken by some of the 
open/free source groups: formally acquire the copyright rights from the 
authors and then register each RFC - last time I checked it was a fairly 
simply form (for each RFC) plus a fee (if I remember correctly it is 
still about $35 each.)

Better to have the power to protect the integrity of the RFCs and not 
ever use it than to someday need the power and not have it.