HTTP/1.1 RFC copyright statement

David Van Horn dvanhorn at
Fri Sep 17 17:18:00 UTC 2004

Alex Rousskov wrote:
> On Fri, 17 Sep 2004, David Van Horn wrote: 
>> Alex Rousskov wrote:
>>>     RFC 2616 is a protocol specification, a piece of documentation, 
>>> not software. AFAICT, OSD does not apply to documentation. OSD scope 
>>> is limited to software:
>>>     *
>>>     The distribution terms of open-source software must comply
>>>     with the following criteria: ...
>> And if it were applied to a specification that included a reference 
>> implementation, would it conform to the OSD?
> If RFC 2616 Copyright Statement is modified to refer to software, then 
> it will most likely not pass OSD as it prohibits modification (or, at 
> least, prohibits modification depending on the field of endeavor).

I'm not suggesting modifying the statement, but supposing that the document 
included some pieces of code and using the statement as is.  (I believe you 
understand this, I just want to be explicit.)

> Technically, if you extract a piece of software from RFC 2616, then your 
> ability to create derivative works seems to be limited to "works that 
> comment on or otherwise explain it or assist in its implementation". The 
> latter is pretty broad, but can be viewed as a "field of endeavor" 
> restriction by OSI.

My understanding is that this is not a restriction, but this is at the heart 
of my question.

> May I ask why you are interested in these seemingly theoretical matters?

I am an editor in the Scheme Request for Implementation process, which is much 
like the RFC process in that it produces specifications for software and 
protocols.  The SRFI copyright statement is exactly that of the RFC statement, 
modulo renaming of the appropriate parties, and SRFI documents tend to include 
reference implementations. Our *intent* has been that these documents, as are 
the pieces of software contained within them, are free, although this has been 
a subject of contention.  We'd be happy to use a license more widely agreed 
upon as being a free license, but there are close to 60 documents carrying the 
current RFC-like statement, and contacting the authors in order to change the 
statement is infeasible.  Moreover, there are several pieces of free software 
that use or derive work from these SRFI documents, which we are concerned about.

So this is not a theoretical question at all.  I'm hoping to either confirm 
that these are indeed free documents as we intended, or to conclude that we 
must go through the painful process of changing the roughly 60 copyright 

Thanks for your consideration,

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