[uf-new] XFN - Professionals Network microformat

Guy Fraser gfraser at adaptavist.com
Thu May 10 16:21:03 PDT 2007

Ryan King wrote:
> First, it's the specifications that would be licensed under CC, not 
> the format itself.

You can't have one without the other. Why not just release under New BSD 
license and solve this whole problem?

> Second, Your assertion that ND specifications won't work for 
> 'corporates', while possible true, is unfounded here. As someone who 
> hasn't worked in corporate environments it would be helpful if you 
> could more clearly explain the objections (in concrete terms with 
> examples).

It's similar to the issues many corporates now have with GPL (which is 
why dual-licensing models work so well for corporates these days) and 
even clause 6 (from memory) of the LGPL.

An example... Corporates want to bundle microformat related systems with 
their commercial products = problem. Corporates want to make a 
proprietary derivative work for internal use only = problem (primarily 
because it's very unclear as to who owns the copyright).  Corporates 
have to go through all kinds of legal cruft when anything like GPL, 
LGPL, cc-by-nd, etc., is involved.

There is also the vastly worrying submarine patent issue with 
microformats as well. For example, corporates could develop systems that 
come to rely on a microformat and sell those systems to clients and then 
later find that they are infringing a patent (or even just an unworkable 
copyright such as cc-by-nd) and then both the company and their clients 
find themselves dealing with very expensive and time consuming law suits.

Many microforamts state that they are likely to be released under a 
"royalty free patent" - it's *really* vital to note that from a legal 
standpoint there are some absolute show-stopper problems with this:

1. Intent does not guarantee what will happen - intent can change over 
time. From a legal standpoint, this means any work based on microformats 
is playing "russian roulette" with the future status of that microformat 
- if it suddenly became patented, companies would face lawsuits.

2. Royalty free != free of cost. Royalty free means that when you have a 
license you can distribute your works under that license at no extra 
cost until the license expires. It does not mean that getting said 
license is free and the patent holder can charge anything they want.


More information about the microformats-new mailing list