[uf-new] Legal implications of using Microformats

Guy Fraser gfraser at adaptavist.com
Fri Apr 27 08:04:30 PDT 2007


Manu Sporny wrote:
> Would the mandatory placement of all examples, formats, brainstorming,
> proposals, and drafts under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike
> 3.0 License go towards solving that problem?
> * It would allow for the commercial and non-commercial use of the
>   format.
> * It would ensure that people could contribute without worrying about
>   copyright assertions from other authors.

Uhm, not really.

1. Share alike is still a problem for some corporates. This is the whole 
reason why a growing number of organisations now run screaming when they 
see LGPL, GPL, cc-*

2. Um, possibly. But again, why not just release under New BSD or 
similar certified open source license. New BSD still requires 
attribution which everyone is fine with IMHO. Having each uF under a New 
BSD license and having a contributors page should make everything 
crystal clear and very tempting for adoption by big companies.

> That coupled with a patent statement on the Microformat stating that
> full disclosure has been performed by all authors and contributors to a
> Microformat. Authors are not allowed to contribute to Microformats if
> their organization holds any sort of patent covering their proposals.

a) Who would own the patent?

b) What's to stop them from changing the licensing of the patent? (the 
patent in itself is not a licensing scheme, it's a mechanism to prevent 
others from using the work without license)

c) Why would I contribute to someone else's patent, especially when I 
don't see the point of the patent in the first place?

> The Microformats community could even put up a terms of use asserting
> that anybody that is going to author a Microformat must agree to the
> previous two requirements before contributing.

Again, if things were released under New BSD or similar certified open 
source license, there would be no problem. "Everything you put on this 
site will be released under New BSD license - if you don't like that, 
don't do it".

I'm still waiting for someone to properly address these 2 key issues:

1. Why not just release the existing uF stuff as certified open source? 
Completely remove licensing issues from the mix?

2. Why not just remove the patent statement - if it's certified open 
source is there any need to patent it? The *only* reasons I'm aware of 
for patenting something are a) stop other people working in that field 
and b) make money from licensing.

If the uF community is wanting to have their work mass adopted and are 
not looking for financial gain, why not address these two fundamental 
issues above?

*puts flack jacket on and hides behind a tree*


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