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This memo provides information for the Internet community. It does not specify an Internet standard of any kind. Distribution of this memo is unlimited.
Copyright © The Internet Society (1996). All Rights Reserved.
This memo summarises the issues on IETF - ISOC relationships as the have been discussed by the Poised Working Group. The purpose of the document is to gauge consensus on these issues. And to allow further discussions where necessary.
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Main boundary condition
2. The legal umbrella
3. The standards process role
4. Security considerations
5. Acknowledgement and disclaimer
§ Author's Address
§ Intellectual Property and Copyright Statements
The IETF remains responsible for the development and quality of the Internet Standards. The ISOC will aid the IETF by facilitating legal and organizational issues as described below. Apart from the roles described below, the IETF and ISOC acknowledge that the ISOC has no influence whatsoever on the Internet Standards process, the Internet Standards or their technical content.
All subgroups in the IETF and ISOC that have an official role in the standards process should be either:
- open to anyone (like Working Groups); or
- have a well documented restricted membership in which the voting members are elected or nominated through an open process.
The latter means that within the IETF the IAB and the IESG need to be formed through a nomination process that is acceptable to the IETF community and that gives all IETF participants an equal chance to be candidate for a position in either of these bodies. For the ISOC this means that the Board of Trustees should be elected by the ISOC individual membership, where all individual members have an equal vote and all individual members have an equal opportunity to stand as a candidate for a position on the Board of Trustees.
ISOC will, like the IETF use public discussion and consensus building processes when it wants to develop new policies or regulations that may influence the role of ISOC in the Internet or the Internet Technical work. ISOC will always put work related to Internet standards, Internet technical issues or Internet operations up for discussion in the IETF through the IETF Internet-drafts publication process.
To avoid the fact that the IETF has to construct its own legal structure to protect the standards and the standards process, ISOC should provide a legal umbrella. The legal umbrella will at least cover:
- legal insurance for all IETF officers (IAB, IESG, Nomcom and WG chairs);
- legal protection of the RFC series of documents; In such a way that these documents can be freely (i.e. no restrictions financially or otherwise) distributed, copied etc. but cannot be altered or misused. And that the right to change the document lies with the IETF.
- legal protection in case of Intellectual property rights disputes over Internet Standards or parts thereof.
ISOC will assist the standards process by
- appointing the nomcom chair
- approving IAB candidates
- reviewing and approving the documents that describe the standards process (i.e. the formal Poised documents).
- acting as the last resort in the appeals process
By involving ISOC into specific parts of the Standards process, the IETF has no longer absolute control. It can be argued that this is a breach of security. It is therefore necessary to make sure that the ISOC involvement is restricted to well defined and understood parts, at well defined and understood boundary conditions. The Poised WG attempts to define these, and they are summarised in this document.
There are three alternatives:
- Do nothing and ignore the increasing responsibility and growth; the risk here is that the IETF either becomes insignificant, or will be suffocated by US law suits.
- The IETF does everything itself; this keeps the IETf in control, but it would distract enormously from the technical work the IETF is trying to get done.
- The IETF finds another organization than ISOC to take on the role described above. But why would another organization be better than ISOC?
All in all a certain risk seems unavoidable, and a relationship with ISOC, under the restrictions and boundary conditions as have been described above, seems more like an opportunity for the IETF than like a risk.
The author is chair of the Poised 95 WG. The author has tried to summarise e-mail and face to face discussions in the WG. All the good ideas in this paper are the result of the WG, all the mistakes and errors are probably due to the author or his lack of command of the American language as well as the American legal system.
The author is a member of the Internet Society.
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Copyright © The Internet Society (1996). All Rights Reserved.
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