Re: [antitrust-policy] Who enforces an Antitrust Policy for the IETF

"John R Levine" <johnl@taugh.com> Mon, 16 January 2012 03:45 UTC

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Date: 15 Jan 2012 22:45:37 -0500
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From: "John R Levine" <johnl@taugh.com>
To: "Brian E Carpenter" <brian.e.carpenter@gmail.com>
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Cc: antitrust-policy@ietf.org
Subject: Re: [antitrust-policy] Who enforces an Antitrust Policy for the IETF
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> I once heard someone interrupt a speaker by saying "If you don't
> stop talking about that right now, I will leave the room, because
> of advice from my anti-trust lawyer" (or words to that effect; this
> was many years ago). Since this was a pretty prominent IETF
> individual, the speaker shut up immediately.

The speaker was protecting his own interests, which is a perfectly 
reasonable thing to do.  That's quite different from drafting us all into 
the IETF's anti-trust enforcement squad.

"You're not allowed to talk about that."  "Yes, I am."  Then what?  Are WG 
chairs supposed to arbitrate?  The session pauses while they call the 
lawyer?  I'm not trying to be unduly difficult, I'm trying to envision a 
way that this proposal won't lead to absurd situations.  If we delete the 
bit about telling people to object, now we have a rule with no enforcement 
mechanism, which is probably worse than no rule at all.

> Yes, wouldn't it be better to position this item as a guideline on
> how to avoid anti-trust issues rather than as a formal rule? The
> responsibility should be clearly on the individuals, not on the IETF.

An informative memo outlining anti-trust law for IETF participants would 
be fine.  (Don't forget a version that also reflects EU law, in time for 
the Paris meeting.)  But trying to make rules based on it is a tar pit. 
Since, as I understand it, the IETF has never been involved in an 
anti-trust suit, I'm still trying to understand what concrete problem this 
exercise is trying to solve beyond the generic Someone Might Sue Us.

Regards,
John Levine, johnl@taugh.com, Taughannock Networks, Trumansburg NY
"I dropped the toothpaste", said Tom, crestfallenly.