Fwd: [uf-discuss] Legal implications of using Microformats

Manu Sporny msporny at digitalbazaar.com
Fri Apr 27 09:22:44 PDT 2007

Brian Suda wrote:
> --- if you can give-us any other information, who exactly the company
> is, etc and any other information from the legal team we can attempt
> to work around these problems or debunk the FUD.

Our company is Digital Bazaar, Inc. we provide digital content delivery
services (buying and selling music, TV, film and books online) and want
to use several Microformats in development for Bitmunk as well as
integration into Firefox, Songbird, and Democracy Media Player (we're
currently talking with each team about Microformats).

Bitmunk website:

DB corporate website:

For those of you that don't know where this discussion started - it was
started by Guy Fraser on microformats-new:


The concern is that there is no standard copyright or patent statement
or policy that applies to the entire Microformats website. Specifically
the examples, formats, brainstorming, proposal, draft and specification
pages have a mix of copyright statements (some not at all). This can
cause problems if an individual authors a Microformat without releasing
copyright or patent claims.

Microformats can stick around in the "draft" process for a long time.
Often they have a statement of "intent" to release it under a certain
copyright/royalty-free licensing model. "Intent to provide under no
restrictions" is very different from "provide under no restrictions".

This could affect anybody implementing Microformats like so:

1. Author pulls together examples, formats, brainstorming, proposal and
draft of a Microformat with "intent" to release royalty-free.
2. Author applies for patent without notifying Microformats community.
3. Invented Microformat gets very popular over the next 2 years.
4. Author decides not to follow through with "intent" and instead
decides to sue for patent infringement. OR Author decides not to
relinquish copyright and becomes a nuisance to the community.

While this will probably not happen, a simple change to the Microformats
wiki can ENSURE that it doesn't happen.

-- manu

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