[Foundation] Recent confusion about the JSF, JINC and the IETF

Peter Saint-Andre stpeter at jabber.org
Thu Aug 1 15:38:40 CDT 2002


Thanks for your post. I feel there is a fundamental misunderstanding at
the root of the issue here, and I'd like to address that misunderstanding.
You wrote:

>  - The JSF membership, in general, understands the role of the JSF to be
>    an overseer of management and development of the protocol. What this
>    means, for most people, is that the JSF effectively "owns" the
>    protocol.
>  - The core Jabber protocols (XMPP) have been offered to the IETF.
>    However, the membership was not formally informed of that submission,
>    nor were they necessarily in agreeance with it.

There are two critical assumptions here that need to be examined.

First, it is not accurate to say that the JSF effectively owns the
protocol, and I'm sorry if I personally have ever given that impression.
The protocol is as free as air. No one can or does own the protocol. The
JSF has worked to put some process around the inherently chaotic evolution
of the protocol, but that doesn't mean the JSF owns the protocol. As a
former philosophy major I'm even tempted to say that the free and
independent nature of the protocol is axiomatic.

A corollary of that axiom is that since no one owns the protocol (not the
JSF, and certainly not Jabber Inc.!), the protocol cannot be "offered" to
the IETF. To say that the protocol has been offered is to say that the
offering entity owns the protocol and is giving something it owns to the
IETF. Yet this cannot be so in this situation.

It is true that Jeremie and I wrote and submitted the Internet-Drafts to
the IETF. We did not do this *as* representatives of the Jabber Software
Foundation but as individuals. It is important to understand that all
involvement with the IETF occurs at the level of the individual. The fact
that Jer and I were identified as being affiliated with the JSF does not
imply that we were *representing* the JSF or its members by submitting
these drafts. The act of submission means only that we were making public
the protocol and recommending to the IETF that it consider the technical
merits of the protocol and think about pursuing standardization or
approval of the protocol through the defined processes of the IETF. Anyone
else could have made these submissions. And certainly anyone can (and
will) get involved in the activities of the Working Group if it is formed.
But they will, again, be involved *as individuals*.

As Jeremie pointed out in a message to the ietf at ietf.org mailing list
(http://www1.ietf.org/mail-archive/ietf/Current/msg16592.html), "We're not
giving up any control, we simply don't have it." Control over the protocol
itself is not the JSF's to "give", and even the IETF process will not gain
control over the protocol, only over the IETF's approval or
standardization of the protocol.

[Others have pointed out that the control question was actually related to
control that Jabber, Inc. may have over any intellectual property rights
(this is the main thrust of concern in Section 10 of RFC 2026, see
http://www.ietf.org/Sec10.txt), and that is what Joe was addressing in his

I think it's critical that we understand the issue of "ownership" (or lack
thereof) over the protocol before pursuing a conversation that is based on
certain assumptions about that ownership. It's a subtle point and one that
is easy to get wrong, so I'm not berating anyone for misunderstanding it.
I just think it's important to strike the root of the problem rather than
get sidetracked by assumptions that are, I hold, inaccurate.


Peter Saint-Andre
Jabber Software Foundation

More information about the Members mailing list