Who Owns the Air, Part II

2002-08-21

My first post of this month pointed to an email I sent about the ownership (or lack thereof) of the Jabber protocol. In it, I argued that no one owns the protocol -- that it is as free as air. I also apologized if I ever gave the impression that the Jabber Software Foundation owned the protocol. Yet in revisiting the current draft version of the JSF's IPR policy, I noticed that indeed I had asserted that the JSF owns the protocol. So I must apologize, and seek to make amends.

Specifically, the IPR policy draft talks about people being able to copyright or patent a protocol extension. Yet this is highly questionable to me, because no one (not even the JSF) owns or can assert ownership over the protocol. So right now I think that any given Jabber Enhancement Proposal needs to acknowledge that the protocol described in the JEP is free (==public domain?), and that all anyone can assert rights to is either documentation of the protocol (the JEP itself, which I think needs to be copyrighted by the JSF) or a specific implementation of the protocol (which implementation can be licensed according to the software license -- open or closed, public or private, free or unfree -- chosen by the code's creator).

So that's where I stand right now. But I need to think about it some more....


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