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[ih] Who owns old RFCs ?

On Thu, Apr 23, 2020 at 7:46 AM Vint Cerf via Internet-history <
internet-history at elists.isoc.org> wrote:

> The idea behind copyright is a finite time for control by the author and
> then entry into public domain for the benefit of all.
> While the ability to control the text ad infinitum might be attractive for
> standards purposes, I am not sure copyright is the right means.
I'm not a lawyer so I'm not sure of the subtle differences and I don't
think we have many, if any, reading or commenting on this list.  Sadly, a
few years ago the world lost Arthur Kahn (the attorney that represented
Franklin Computer against Apple in the original copyright case of WRT to SW
in the late 70s).  While he lost the case, his ideas gave us the 'clean
room' concept that is pretty much standard in the industry and accepted in
legal circles.  We need someone with Arthur intellect and knowledge of the
law, come up with a similarly creative solution.  I'd be curious to hear
what someone like Larry Lessing thinks we have as tools here.

IMO, while protecting against fake RFCs is probably a good idea too, I
believe that what we really need is a way to protect the >>ideas<<
contained within the RFCs in a manner that anyone can use them, but when
using/applying them in practice, any new ideas or new 'gadget' must be
defined as a "derivative work" of those ideas.

That said, because since they have been published opening already, someone
that tried to make a claim is going to have to prove how they did it
without the information contained within (*i.e.* they are 'mentally
contaminated' by the RFC or any textbook/course that used the RFC as source
material).  But having some sort of front and center stamp reminding
people, these ideas are owned by someone like ISOC seems appropriate.

> A different tactic might be to use a form of trademark which can be
> protected forever (I think). The text would not be trademarked but the
> indicator that something is an IETF-controlled item might be subject to
> trademark.  Would that protect against someone producing a fake RFC or
> altered RFC?
Again, not a lawyer, so I'm not in a position to suggest it is good enough
or not.  I >>suspect<< that it's not strong enough because what you
describe might or might protect against a new document, the ideas contained
within are what we really need to protect.  Simply, it still does not
protect against derivative works and claims of what is the base of idea(s)
which your new one(s) is(are) building upon.   Look at all the confusion
with some members of Linux community claiming it's not 'UNIX' because they
are equating the source code (i*.e.* the implementation of the ideas) with
the intellectual property (*i.e.* the ideas themselves); even though the US
Courts at least (in the USL vs UCB/BSDi case), have already ruled and made
it clear -- Idris, Coherent, Mach, Chorus, *et al and Linux*... are new
*implementations* (with some new ideas of their own too), but are
implementations and extensions of the original AT&T owned ideas.  But AT&T
could not claim not 'trade secrets' and thus anyone could use the ideas.

To me, it is the content of the RFCs that need to be protected.   They can
be used by anyone, like Ken and Dennis's as they published them in the
open; just as the RFCs have been over time.   But any *implementation* of
ideas in those RFC's are still based on the published idea, and an
implementor of those ideas needs to point back to the RFCs.  Nor can
the implementor make any claim for anything but the new implementation