[OpenID board] [legal] Feedback on latest drafts of OpenID IPR Policy and Process

Martin Atkins mart at degeneration.co.uk
Mon Dec 3 10:33:13 UTC 2007

Dick Hardt wrote:
 > The objective in having Contributors execute a NAA to participate in
 > a WG is so that the Contributor does not lead the group down the
 > garden path of a patent that an evil Contributor has and then
 > surprise everyone at the end. Given that some people are evil and
 > would like to play this game, we have just changed the means by which
 > the game is played. They can't be a contributor, but they can be part
 > of the OpenID Community, implement OpenID specifications and still
 > make infringement claims against implementors of an OpenID
 > specification they did not contribute to.

In your other message you defined "members of the OpenID community" to 
mean "members of the OpenID Foundation", which is fine because that 
would seem to be the only definition that allows the above to work.

The OpenID Foundation can't impose rules on people who don't join the 
Foundation, aside from those it's specifically allowed by law. 
(Trademark protection, for example.)

I'm not sure how the above attack is prevented by your alteration. It is 
not required that you be a member of the foundation in order to 
implement an OpenID specification. All your above attacker has to do to 
avoid culpability is simply not join the Foundation at all.

> The direction of the specifications council of being representation  
> vs full meritocracy is in the wrong direction from my point of view.
> The Board and the Specs council should serve at the pleasure of the  
> Community. Being elected by the community does not mean the Board or  
> council are representing the Communities interest. So much can happen  
> in two years, that OpenID can be in a completely different direction  
> by the time a new set of elections happen.
> I strongly feel the power should be with the Community, not the  
> Board, and not the Specifications  Council. The Community should  
> decide on starting WGs, finalization of Specifications and changes to  
> the process and policy.

I agree with you in principle, but I'm concerned that having a 
community-wide (which of course really means membership-wide) vote on 
every single working group ratification and other such issues seems like 
it would be an unworkable burden.

Perhaps a compromise can be drawn, where only the most important issues 
(for example, whether to approve a Final Specification, and of course 
who is on the Specs council and Board) would be done using a 
membership-wide vote, but other issues such as the ratification of a 
working group would be done by the specs council. After all, the mere 
creation of a working group has little impact in the grand scheme.

It's also worth noting, I think, that the specs council and board won't 
be working in a vacuum. They will presumably take into account the 
feedback of the community when making decisions. If either the specs 
council or the board ever gets into a situation where a majority of the 
members are "corrupt" then we have bigger problems.

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