Archive of UserLand's first discussion group, started October 5, 1998.

Re: Summary of recent XML-RPC developments

Author:John Brewer
Posted:9/7/1999; 3:21:04 PM
Topic:Summary of recent XML-RPC developments
Msg #:10701 (In response to 10661)
Prev/Next:10700 / 10702

So we will do something to make the XML-RPC irrevocably in the public domain. The question is how to express that. We want to retain a copyright on the spec itself. I don't understand or believe in public domain writing.

I believe the traditional solution has been to copyright the spec, but give permission for the spec to be reprinted in its entirity. This avoids the possibility of variant versions of the spec drifting around, yet gives me the assurance that you can't deprive the community of the spec simply by removing it from your website.

But any implementation of the spec is completely free. You are free to even be incompatible, but I want to be sure that compatibility means something. And you may quote the spec liberally, on a fair use basis. If you're implementing the spec, I don't want anything to stand in your way.

"I am not a lawyer, but:" You can't copyright an idea, only a specific expression of an idea. So you can copyright the text of the spec document, and you can copyright specific implementations of the spec that you create. But those copyrights do not cover independent implementations of the spec.

The usual ways that specs are kept proprietary are through trade secret or patent law. Trade secret doesn't apply, because you've already published the spec on the web, so it isn't a secret anymore. Patent would only apply if you've already filed for a patent, since the "invention" was disclosed over a year ago.

So unless I'm missing something major, I'm already free to implement XML-RPC any way I see fit, and there's nothing you, or a hypothetical "evil successor CEO" can do about it.

To help encourage compatability, you could trademark a logo, and only allow implementations who passed a compatability test to display the logo. Please don't trademark the phrase "XML-RPC" itself, since it is already the generic term for this protocol.

As always, check with a real lawyer (preferably an intellectual property specialist) before making any Major Life Decisions based on the contents of this post.

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