Re: How IETF treats contributors

Dean Anderson <> Mon, 30 August 2004 21:21 UTC

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Date: Mon, 30 Aug 2004 16:43:57 -0400
From: Dean Anderson <>
To: Hadmut Danisch <>
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Subject: Re: How IETF treats contributors
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To be clear, I was among thouse who noted the deficiencies in RMX, and
note practically the same deficiencies in SPF, with the added "feature"
that it allows 2 large ISPs to conspire together to prevent unbundling of
their email and connectivity services in violation of US and European
anti-trust laws.

That said, it is a reprehensible shame that you are not being given credit
for your work in SPF and RMX. It was an original idea, and was clear the
result of a lot of work and a lot of thought.  That it did not obtain its
goals is unfortunate, but many unsuccessful ideas reveal truths that
become the foundations for more successful ideas.  Each wrong turn and
dead-end investigated, even if disappointing, ultimately brings society
progress, and that is good.

It is unfortunate that as a society, we do not find someway to reward the
wrong turns and investigators of dead-ends.  We typically only reward the
successful results, and ignore the huge amount of unsuccessful work it
took to obtain it.  But the least we can to is to __acknowledge__ the work
that was done, and thank those who did it.

In my opinion, it is completely inappropriate that the IETF, an
intellectual, professional organization, does not give credit were credit
is due.  The "glop" you heard from the chairs about copyright infringement
is just glop, in my opinion**.  Credit and attribution is about
__intellectual__honesty__, not about copyright law.

Failure to give credit is intellectually dishonest.  But I suspect there
are other reasons for not wanting to associate with RMX.  We demonstrated
that RMX did not solve the problem it set out to solve. No doubt, the
MARID group chairs do not want to appear to simply re-hash RMX under a
different name. In order to avoid that, they have to pretend it wasn't
written by you.

Dean Anderson
Av8 Internet, Inc

** Judging by book infringement cases in which trivial changes to general
plotline and story events still infringe, they may wrong about the
copyright infringement as well.  You will also have to pay attention to
the copyright agreements and terms that govern your submissions. I suspect
that draft authors may not actually own the copyright to the drafts they
submit. See RFC 3667 and 3668.  But you will need to consult an attorney
versed in US Copyright Law, if you want to go that route.

On Mon, 30 Aug 2004, Hadmut Danisch wrote:

> Hi.
> If I understood the IETF correctly, it is an organization based 
> on the work of volunteers and their contributions. Correct me, if 
> I'm wrong.
> I'd like to question the way IETF treats it's contributors.
> Some time ago I've written a proposal about how to prevent 
> forged e-mails in order to fight spam and published it as an 
> I-D (RMX). This was also the first posting ever to the IRTF's 
> ASRG mailing list and subject of discussion for months. 
> Within this discussion another proposal (SPF) was raised, 
> explicitely introduced as based on RMX and intended to cover it. 
> Some time later, Microsoft published it's CallerID proposal, again 
> influenced by RMX. 
> The IETF founded the MARID working group which solely focussed on 
> those mailer authorization records in DNS (MARID is exactly that
> acronym). 
> MARID produced a new proposal called SenderID, which was introduced
> as a melt of SPF and CallerID. Actually, some properties
> characteristic for CallerID and newer versions of SPF have been
> omitted, thus the SenderID core draft does not significantly
> differ from RMX and the results of discussions about RMX. SenderID 
> is mostly taken from RMX.
> Is that bad? No. Contributing to IETF means feeding for derivative
> work. Developing network protocols means necessarily cooperation and 
> evolution, and that's impossible without derivative work. After all,
> why should someone submit an I-D, if not to get other people's
> comments and to invite other's for derivative work. If someone
> derivates his work from your's, then this is a validation that your 
> work was usable and interesting, and that someone actually read your 
> paper. So there's nothing wrong about derivative work per se, and
> that's an essential part of the way, the IETF works (at least in my
> eyes, correct me if I'm wrong).
> But in my opinion, the least a contributor can expect is that
> derivative work based on his contribution does acknowledge and cite 
> the contribution correctly and does not pass the contribution as
> someone else's work. Correct me if I'm wrong.
> The SenderID core draft does not cite RMX adequatly.
> I have asked the MARID and ASRG chairs that RMX is cited correctly 
> when turning the SenderID draft into an RFC. They denied. It's a
> commercial Microsoft and Pobox show.
> While on one hand the chairs do more or less acknowledge or at least
> not deny, that SenderID is based on and close to RMX, they do on the
> other hand refuse to cite RMX properly. As a reason they give, that
> IETF is under US law, and under US law the copyright protects only
> against literal plagiarisms, i.e. cut-and-paste, but not against
> paraphrased derivatives. Since I had therefore no legal copyright
> claims against SenderID, I will not be cited, as I was told.
> I am not that experienced with US laws yet, but I can hardly imagine
> that this is correct. If this was correct, I could easily republish any
> book under my name just by paraphrasing it's contents. I bet I'd be in
> trouble if I tried to do so. 
> But forget legal issues for a moment, these are to be discussed
> elsewhere. I'd like to ask you for your personal opinion, not your 
> legal knowledge or appraisal:
> Is that the way IETF treats it's contributors? 
> Is that considered as fair and honest?
> regards
> Hadmut Danisch
> _______________________________________________
> Ietf mailing list

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