RE: BCP97bis

John C Klensin <> Mon, 18 October 2021 13:55 UTC

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Date: Mon, 18 Oct 2021 09:55:13 -0400
From: John C Klensin <>
To:, Larry Masinter <>
cc: 'Michael Richardson' <>, 'IETF' <>
Subject: RE: BCP97bis
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--On Monday, October 18, 2021 05:49 -0700 wrote:

> Speaking as a media type reviewer, I require free access to
> the relevant standards before I'll review a media type in the
> standards tree. This has led various special arrangements to
> access specifications that would otherwise cost $$$.

Presumably, if someone lent you a copy for the duration of your
review process, that would suffice.  Correct?

We had some discussions a long time about about the RFC Editor
requiring copies of everything outside the RFC Series that was
normatively referenced and then maintaining their own
repository.  For better or worse, the idea never went anywhere
but it would have made all of these documents freely available
and reading them free if only one could get to Marina del Rey or
somewhere on the USC campus.  Easier for you than for me, I
suppose :-).

> Note that this doesn't mean that free access is required for
> everyone. The requirements for media types in the standards
> tree are that there be a  stable, publicly available
> specification. Free availability is not part of it.

Right.  And there is a huge difference between one copy,
available without cost to a media type reviewer, perhaps for a
limited time and, e.g., requiring that copies be distributed to,
or otherwise available for free to, the entire IESG, the
document shepherd, the relevant WG, and potentially anyone who
might want to do a Last Call review.  

We need to be very careful about how we define and scope
requirements in this area.

> While I'm not aware of it happening, it's theoretically
> possible for a standards organization to fail and take all of
> its specifications with it, just like any other organization.

Yes, but if the work of that standards organization was widely
enough used that we should have taken them seriously in the
first place, there would presumably be copies of the relevant
documents in libraries and other repositories all over the
world.  Having the SDO fail would be very bad for any
expectations about maintenance of those documents and probably
for their credibility but would have little impact on
availability of archival copies.