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

Martin Atkins mart at degeneration.co.uk
Wed Nov 28 21:07:54 UTC 2007

Drummond Reed wrote:
> Per the promise the OpenID Foundation board members made to review the 
> latest drafts of the OpenID IPR docs as quickly as possible, here are my 
> comments on the latest IPR Policy and Process docs.

Thanks for starting this off, Drummond.

I have also now reviewed the Policy and Process documents, and I have 
some comments which are included below.


== Policy Document ==

I.13. As noted by Drummond, this says "Documents published by OpenID" 
rather than "by the OpenID Foundation", or some other appropriate entity.

I.14. It is not clear what role the existing specs at openid.net mailing 
list will play under this policy. Per this clause, it is not considered 
to be an official discussion forum for specifications. The process 
document indicates that it will be used for announcements of new work 
groups, but presumably this will not be its only purpose. (If it *is* 
its only purpose, then presumably posting access will be restricted to 
avoid confusion.)

Also, I agree with Drummond that wikis are a valuable collaboration tool 
when authoring specifications. I have mixed feelings about how best to 
codify this in the policy, though. It seems to me that:

  * A work group should be able to itself select appropriate 
collaboration tools, just as it given the freedom to arrange its own 
meetings. (Wikis and web-based forum tools spring to mind immediately, 
but other tools may become useful in future.)

  * However, to avoid confusion and legal trouble such tools must be 
restricted so that only Contributors of the working group are able to 
make contributions.

  * The mailing list provided by the foundation and hosted on openid.net 
should remain the primary communication medium due to the fact that it 
is archived and made public by the foundation itself. So-called "Core 
Decisions" should always be either made directly via the mailing list or 
notice of such decisions posted on the mailing list (for example, in the 
form of meeting minutes) to ensure a complete public record.

== Process Document ==

General note: I'm not clear on the role of the Specifications Council in 
the specification approval process. Section 4 describes the obligations 
of the work group and, where appropriate, its editors. Section 5 
describes the involvement of the board. Does the Specifications Council 
not get a say in whether a Final Specification or Implementors Draft is 
approved? If not, I feel that this should be made more explicit, either way.

2. Editorial: can this perhaps be rephrased so that it doesn't have 
nested parentheses? I think it makes that portion of the paragraph 
rather hard to follow; I had to read it more than once before I was 
certain I had read it correctly. At minimum, I'd suggest using em-dashes 
for the inner parenthetical phrase.

3.1. Nit-picking, perhaps: The term "plain text electronic form" is 
used. Is this intended to mean literally a "text file" (in some 
reasonable character encoding), or could this (for example) be an HTML 
document or other such "text-based" format?

3.1(a)(iii). regarding "the purpose of the OpenID community": does the 
community itself actually have a defined purpose? Would it not be better 
to use "the purpose of the OpenID Foundation" here? (Given that the work 
groups are run under the perview of said foundation.)

3.1(a)(vii) It seems that the result of this requirement could form the 
basis of documenting what are considered the group's official 
collaboration tools for I.14 of the policy document.

3.8. This section creates several obligations for openness of a work 
group, which I would consider a good thing. However, earlier section 3.4 
carries the implication that the work group may keep its mailing lists, 
drafts and other documents inaccessible to those who are not members of 
the group. This seems a little inconsistent.

3.11. One sentence ends "as long as the vote otherwise complies with 
Error! Reference source not found."

5.3. This specifically refers to a "logo" and a "logo licence". Would it 
not be better to be more general here to allow for trademarked words 
such as "OpenID" and other devices which may be appropriate to a 
particular specification? This also seems like an odd place to include 
such a rule: wouldn't this be more at home in the trademark policy?

== Rationale Document ==

Another nit-pick perhaps, but the document does not seem to have its 
publication date actually included in the text, which makes the use of 
time-sensitive language like "now" and "already" (particularly in 
section 2) quite ambiguous.


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