10 February 2009

Help Fight This Patent-Encumbered IETF Standard

I've written numerous times about the importance of writing to governments about their hare-brained schemes, but this one is rather different. In this case, it's the normally sane Internet Engineering Task Force that wants to do something really daft. The FSF explains....

On Open Enterprise blog.


Roy Schestowitz said...

Patents in the Standard

Dear IETF:

There appears to be a show-stopper in draft-housley-tls-authz-extns-07.txt


It appears that the proposed standard is patent-encumbered.

1) This violates the EU definition of open standard

2) It hinders, and in some cases, prevents *use*, and use is what
standards are about. So as such it threatens to impair e-commerce and
general web security

3) It puts the IETF in a bad light to have allowed an apparently patent
encumbered payload to get so far along in the standards discussion

The solution is to remove any items claimed to be patented, or else
follow the EU's requirements for open standard and put in writing that
there are no constraints on re-use. Grant the copyright and patents
irrevocably, royalty-free for implementation, use and distribution.


Mates of mine did the same. Ta, Glyn.

glyn moody said...

well done.

Stephen said...

I also just sent an email. I wish I had more time to write it, I think I would have done a few things differently.....

I was reading some news late today when I noticed this.

Hopefully I'm not to late to add myself as another person who opposes
standards that are encumbered with patents.

I have only had minor input into standard processes before as you
might note I'm listed in rfc3986 section 9 as a contributor.
I also have recently mentioned the rfc process as something that is
something to be looked up to. Specifically I mentioned "I'd like to
see an rfc or similar that is free from patent concerns." . So my
concerns about patents in standards is something that I consider
important to avoid.

I acknowledge that the Internet Engineering Task Force and the rfc
process has a vital part of our shared Internet infrastructure, but
I'd also like to acknowledge the important of source available
software that was unencumbered with patent restraints: from Bind,
Sendmail, BSD, GNU/Linux, Apache, Firefox, Konqueror, and many others.
A vital part of our shared Internet culture is the ability to have
transparency of the working of the communication protocols and the
freedom for many diverse parties to participate. Patents in software
threaten to undermine the strength of this culture.

I consider the ability to implement this technique in either a gpl or
a bsd licensed program without further permission and being able to be
shipped by Red Hat, Canonical, Novel, the various bsds to be a litmus
standard for whether the legal terms are acceptable or not.

While the ietf can't directly fight against patents by directly
changing the laws or issuing court decisions like the recent Bilski
case; I think it's important to stand up to anti-social folks like
RedPhone and say that exclusionary practises like enforcing patents is
not a part of what drives the Internet and is not a acceptable social

glyn moody said...

Great letter - thanks for sharing it.