Re: BCP97bis and "freely available"

Brian E Carpenter <> Mon, 18 October 2021 20:05 UTC

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Subject: Re: BCP97bis and "freely available"
References: <> < om> <> <> <8E6C9FDEA828F341AA36F39C@PSB>
From: Brian E Carpenter <>
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Date: Tue, 19 Oct 2021 09:04:57 +1300
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I think the original concern was indeed standards that (for 
proprietary or other reasons) were actually kept secret.
So "freely" didn't imply "free of charge"; it meant available
to the general public. In that sense it's closely related
to "open standards". Those are standards that are open to
the general public. I think that's what we insist on, and
"free of charge" is desirable, but not essential.

"Open standards that are openly developed" means standards
whose development process is open to the general public.
We don't insist on that for external references.

   Brian Carpenter

On 19-Oct-21 02:33, John C Klensin wrote:
> Hi.
> In looking through the new -01 draft (even though this text has
> not changed) I noticed something that I sort of hinted at
> yesterday in responding to other comments.
> You need to define "freely available" and do so precisely.  
> We have historically considered printed books and articles in
> established journals to be suitable for normative references
> from the RFC Series ("down" really has nothing to do with that
> criterion) even if buying the book or obtaining the journal was
> expensive.  In theory, there was always a trip to the library.
> Some of the standards from other SDOs have the same property:
> they are often very expensive unless one's organization is a
> member that gets them for free, but many libraries and other
> repositories do have them available.
> Of course, some of us have access to better technical libraries
> than others. That is an economic and cultural problem I don't
> know how to fix, but I'm fairly sure that pushing in the
> direction of "must be available online, with no restrictions and
> no cost" would be quite self-destructive for the IETF.
> "Freely available" does not necessarily imply "free" (zero cost).
> By contrast, one can imagine a reference to a restricted
> corporate document, some types of prepublication drafts, and, if
> the world continues to fragment, even the detailed description
> of how some equipment operates.  In those cases, the document
> may just not be "available" to many IETF participants even
> though, if someone were allowed to access it, it would be at no
> cost.
> So the I-D should be very clear about what it is talking about.
> Then, if needed, we can have a better discussion about the
> requirements.
> best,
>     john