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

Mike Jones Michael.Jones at microsoft.com
Wed Nov 28 21:53:36 UTC 2007


Let me second Martin's statement here:
* 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.

Part of the point is to be able to unambiguously determine what is and is not a contribution.  Having the working group being able to choose additional collaboration tools, where write access is restricted to contributors, would be a great addition to the process.

For purposes of creating specifications, the specs at openid.net list would be replaced by separate specs list for each working group.  It would still play the notification role described in the docs.

Responding to your statement "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." I'll point out that 3.8 says "All WG email lists will be archived, and all WG email archives will be publicly visible."  In short, only contributors can send to the mailing lists but anyone can view the archived copies of them.

I'll ask our legal about your question about the logo.

                                Best wishes,
                                -- Mike

-----Original Message-----
From: legal-bounces at openid.net [mailto:legal-bounces at openid.net] On Behalf Of Martin Atkins
Sent: Wednesday, November 28, 2007 1:08 PM
To: board at openid.net; legal at openid.net
Subject: Re: [legal] [OpenID board] Feedback on latest drafts of OpenID IPR Policy and Process

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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