[legal] Feedback on OpenID IPR Policy and Process

Johannes Ernst jernst+openid.net at netmesh.us
Mon Oct 29 15:51:17 UTC 2007

On Oct 28, 2007, at 12:33, Mike Jones wrote:
>>  I would be much more comfortable if the Voting Process was  
>> defined in this document. A change in the Bylaws voting which has  
>> to do with the Foundation will now impact Voting in the IPR Process.
> I would be OK with copying the voting procedures from the Bylaws  
> into the process doc.
Personally I feel we should not over-codify ("ossify") things.  
Processes usually change, and need to change, once they hit reality,  
and all that usually happens with over-codified processes is that  
people ignore them because it was to hard to change the process.  
(Anybody ever worked for a big company? ;-)) I'd like to avoid the  
latter for as long as possible.

> 2) The OpenID Foundation is becoming a Standards Body.
I really do not understand why people get hung up on that term. If I  
sit down with my buddy and we agree how to move data between his  
piece of software and mine, we are essentially a standards body, in  
particular if we then make the agreement available publicly so others  
can implement it, too. As we might add process and rules to it, my  
buddy and I might eventually be an ANSI-accredited standards  
development organization with a direct avenue to ISO (a "real  
official standard"). In between there are many shades of gray, and  
it's not binary at all. It's clear that all OpenID-related protocol  
work is quite some way down that road already.

The proposed IPR policy and process changes the hue of gray a bit, I  
agree, but only a bit and in order to solve a particular, important  
problem that it on the critical path for many other things. So this  
is what we should do.

>> This is contrary to the Charter of the Foundation. The Governance  
>> of the Foundation did not anticipate being a Standards Body and  
>> the political implications of being a Standards Body. As a  
>> participant in the formation of the Foundation, it was very clear  
>> that we did NOT want the Foundation to be Standards Body.
As another participant in the formation of the foundation, I recall  
no consensus on the issue, which is why we settled for the time being  
on what we could find consensus on.

But that doesn't even matter. What matters is that the foundation is  
responsive to the needs of the community that created it, which is  
why we need to do what has been proposed here.
> 3) Many organizations will NOT use a standard that has not been  
> endorsed by a recognized Standards Body.
Absolutely. Certainly the OpenID Foundation has no plans at this  
point to become an accredited standards body (I think that is what  
you mean, rather than "recognized"). But plenty of mechanisms exist  
to fast-track "standards" of the OpenID Foundation to other  
organizations that are accredited, which we can use should the need  
arise; the proposal on the table does in no way subtract from that.
> I'll also comment that, if this is perceived as a problem, I *know*  
> that OASIS (and probably other standards bodies as well) would be  
> glad to take an approved OpenID spec and adopt it as an OASIS spec  
> as-is.
That's exactly the avenue that I'm describing. Heck, we could  
probably take it directly into ISO if we really wanted to ;-)
> Dick's questions do bring up one of my own.  How can we enshrine  
> the notion that specifications should only be approved when there  
> are multiple independent interoperable implementations of them?
Mike: could you propose a number for the term "multiple"? And define  

Johannes Ernst
NetMesh Inc.


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