The Public Domain here, there, and everywhere

Alex Brown alexb at
Tue Nov 2 15:40:00 CET 2010

Rob hi

Unless I missed it, I don't believe anybody has proposed to "simply take the Application Note [and attempt] to standardize it", and it does indeed seem likely there would be no consensus if we *were* we to recommend that course.

On the topic of consensus -- in Tokyo, all the NB experts attending the WG 1 meeting spoke about their NB's ballot response. The UK made its case for a study period, and the other NBs (including the US) supported this activity and approved the scope as set out in N 1494, approved unanimously at the plenary.

I'm a little uncomfortable with the idea that we, a lowly technical committee, should be interfering with a private company - PKWare - by "encouraging" them to do certain things. However, if PKWare is happy to volunteer to work on a skeleton RER, what do people think about including that as one of our deliverables?

If we did that, I think we would also need to present  a roadmap for the standardization route (the 'firmer rationale') to fulfil our brief. We may in this case also decide to recommend putting any further standardization work on hold pending the successful establishment of an RER?

Again, what do people think?

- Alex.

> -----Original Message-----
> From: sc34wg1study-bounces at [mailto:sc34wg1study-
> bounces at] On Behalf Of robert_weir at
> Sent: 02 November 2010 13:28
> To: 'ISO Zip'
> Subject: RE: The Public Domain here, there, and everywhere
> It is also relevant whether this was a personal work, or a work-for-hire, or
> whether via other means (copyright assignment, for example) rights were
> vested in PKWARE.
> In any case, my point is that the same laws that prevent me from taking an
> ISO standard and creating my own forked version of it, also protect standards
> and specifications from other organizations, including private companies.
> The ZIP Application Note has had a copyright notice constantly since the start.
> So however we want to interpret the old press release, we must interpret it
> as consistent with the contemporaneous copyright notice, as well as Info-
> Zip's contemporaneous acknowledge of the copyright, as well as common
> practice circa 1989 with open standards and specifications.
> Anyone who wants to suggest that PKWARE did something unprecedented
> back in 1989 (and unprecedented since as well) has an uphill battle to prove
> their point.  It is not enough merely to make a plausible argument.  You must
> make an argument that is more likely than the alternative interpretation.
> We should also consider the NWIP ballot that failed and that many NB's
> expressed strong concerns with an attempt to simply take the Application
> Note (or a derived work like Info-Zip) and attempting to standardize it.
> A few examples:
> ==Japan==
> "Unless the maintainer (i.e., PKWARE) of the original .ZIP Application Note
> agrees on this project and clarifies which feature has intelectual property
> issues and which feature does not, we believe that this project should not be
> added to the programme of work of JTC1."
> ==USA==
> "They [PKWARE] have published and maintain the ZIP specification in the
> form of a freely available "Application Note". Efforts to formally standardize
> an existing technology with such broad adoption, without participation of
> principal ZIP vendors will introduce interoperability problems throughout the
> market.
> To make referencing ZIP in ISO/IEC standard developments easier, the US
> believes an alternate and far more efficient approach to ISO/IEC JTC 1/SC 34
> N 1414 would be for JTC 1 to approve the ZIP Application Note as a
> Referenced Specification (RS) per Annex N of the currently published JTC 1
> Directives."
> ==Germany==
> "The main driver of ZIP format should be participating (pkware), if not there
> is the danger of a fork between standard and implementation"
> ==Italy==
> "The proposed New Work item is based on a proprietary technology. The
> proposal for
> standardization is not adequately supported by the direct involvement or
> commitment of the
> technology owner in the standardization process."
> ==France==
> "ZIP is a de facto standard since a long time. The main vendors of ZIP
> product collaborate on the
> specification and since almost 20 years they published and maintained this
> specification for free.
> France believes that it is up to them to decide whether they wish to
> follow a formal standardization
> process and not to SC 34."
> ==China==
> "The amendment right of ZIP format is owned by PKWARE Inc. in US. But
> SC34
> and PKWARE have
> not made an agreement on the ZIP standardization since now. China
> suggests
> that SC34 do the NP
> work after reaching an agreement between SC34 and PKWARE"
> ==Canada==
> " prevent any potential future divergence from the ZIP community
> specification, SC34 should direct its effort towards making the ZIP
> Application Note as a
> 'REFERENCED SPECIFICATION' (in accordance with Annex N of JTC1 directives)
> and call out for
> the 'minimal features' from that RS required for XML document packaging.
> This should be done in
> cooperation with the current owners of ZIP - PKWARE."
> Now there was a small minority (a single NB, in fact) who convinced
> themselves that the issue was merely one of scope, and that if a Study
> Group were to be convened to discuss the scope, that all would be well.
> This small minority proposed this Study Group and is quite vocal on it.
> But unless a new proposal is made that satisfies the majority of voting
> SC34 NBs, the previous failure will surely be repeated.
> I hope we can all agree, at the very least, that there is NO CONSENSUS on
> whether we should (or even may) base a new standard on the Application
> Note or derived work like Info-ZIP, without the explicit permission of
> PKWARE, and that further discussion us unlikely to lead to consensus.
> I recommend that we move on to items where we might be able to achieve
> consensus and do something useful at the same time, for example:
> 1) We encourage PKWARE to update their Application Note to make it easier
> to profile it.
> 2) We encourage PKWARE to define a public defect submission and
> resolution
> process.
> 3) ISO standards that reference ZIP Application Note directly would use
> the RER process.
> 4) WG1 creates a profile standard based on the revised Application Note.
> This would require an RER as well.  IPR and maintenance would be clarified
> in the RER.
> Regards
> -Rob
> "Dennis E. Hamilton" <dennis.hamilton at> wrote on 11/02/2010
> 12:30:53 AM:
> >
> > Subject:
> >
> > RE: The Public Domain here, there, and everywhere
> >
> > There is no public-domain copyright status in the US.  A work is
> > either in copyright or in public domain (because copyright has
> > lapsed).  Works are assumed born in copyright.
> >
> > The closest to a public-domain declaration is a quit-claim.  It
> > can't even be registered with the US Copyright Office.
> >
> > To make things a bit more decorous and traceable, there is a
> > Creative Commons no-rights CC0 license that provides a nice formal
> > way to make the quit-claim:
> <>.
> >
> > This did not exist at the time that Phil Katz did his work, but if
> > you can find enough authoritative declarations it would probably
> > hold up as a defense against copyright infringement.  But consult
> > your own lawyer about that sort of thing.
> >
> > One problem, of course, is determining just what (US-defined,
> > including software) literary work is it that has been declared to be
> > in the Public Domain.  That matters too.  Here, specificity is
> > important.  And none of this has anything to do with other forms of
> > IP such as patents and trademarks.
> >
> >  - Dennis
> >
> > -----Original Message-----
> > From: sc34wg1study-bounces at [mailto:sc34wg1study-
> bounces at
> > ] On Behalf Of Horton, Gareth
> > Sent: Monday, November 01, 2010 20:42
> > To: robert_weir at; ISO Zip
> > Subject: RE: [sc34-wg1]
> >
> > Hi Rob,
> >
> > Just a small correction below on public domain:
> >
> > -----Original Message-----
> > From: sc34wg1study-bounces at [mailto:sc34wg1study-
> bounces at
> > ] On Behalf Of robert_weir at
> > Sent: 01 November 2010 13:38
> > To: ISO Zip
> > Subject: RE: [sc34-wg1]
> >
> > [ ... ]
> >
> > If you talk to a lawyer, you'll be told that "public domain" has no set
> > meaning, except for creative works that are older than their statutory
> > copyright terms.  So this press release -- if genuine -- is at best
> > ambiguous.  As you know, it was "discovered" by one SC34 "invited
> expert"
> > who then put on the ZIP Wikipedia page to give it credence.  The page
> does
> > not even load for me right now.  And it is certainly not at a site that
> > immediately suggests authenticity.
> >
> > >>>You mean a U.S lawyer maybe.  Dedicating works to the public
> > domain certainly has a set meaning in U.K law - all intellectual
> > property rights have been forfeited. I wouldn't be so sure this is
> > not the case in the U.S.
> > >>>Maybe the U.S argument is that they are a form of copyright
> > license, which can be revoked at will, but since Phil Katz did not
> > do that in his lifetime ...
> > >>>
> >
> > >>>Looks like UK-based implementors will be at an advantage ;-)
> >
> > >>>In addition, the statement on the format being released into the
> > public domain was also on PKWARE's own web site and still is, as of
> today (
> >, so I think we can put that issue to
> bed.
> >
> > [ ... ]
> >
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