Re FPIs for RFCs

Terry Allen tallen at
Mon Dec 1 20:53:52 GMT 1997

Rick Jelliffe wrote:
| No. IDN means Internet Domain Name.  Internic, by establishing the archive
| there for public use, have de facto made it available for use in FPIs.
| I do not need their permission.  They are the "owner" of the
| text   It is like using an ISBN number.

No, it's making up a new identifier in someone else's name space without
their permission.  I can't make it any clearer than that:  don't appropriate
the property of others.  Neither Network Solutions, which owns
"", nor the IETF (or IESG), which owns the document
known not as "" but as "RFC 2046", nor
ISO has given you permission to use this name space.

Network Solutions, Inc. (INTERNIC-DOM)
   505 Huntmar Park Drive
   Herndon, VA 20170

   Domain Name: INTERNIC.NET

   Administrative Contact:
      Network Solutions, Inc.  (HOSTMASTER)  hostmaster at INTERNIC.NET
      (703) 742-4777 (FAX) (703) 742-9552

| If it was private or non-archival material I would have used me as the 
| "owner". 

As you should in this case, too.  It's *your* name for it, not one
they have decided on and agreed to use.  You should have consideration
for the resolution burden you are placing on people you haven't 

| Of course it is better if there is one canonical correct version for all
| FPIs, but people often have to make up FPIs.  For example, almost every
| use of ISBN in an FPI would not have been made by the author of the text
| of the book.  This means that there can indeed be multiple similar versions
| of an FPI.  The benefit of being able to describe vaguely rather than locate is
| a great thing for people putting systems together. (Of course, for XML,
| this is not such a good thing, if we are treating XML as a closed system.)

The decision to use an ISBN as the owner identifier within an FPI must
rest with the owner of the ISBN.  That's who owns that name space.

| > It's still not your name space, and you shouldn't be assigning names
| > within it.  Try that trick with some commercial company's DNS name
| > and you'll be hearing from their lawyers - properly.  Qualms or not, 
| > don't intrude.
| On what grounds?  "owner"ship in the ISO 9070 sense is not a property 
| right. Otherwise people could not use ISBN numbers in FPIs, for the same
| reason. It is merely because there is no convenient noun for "person/
| thing belonged to".

See above.  

| And in any case, I would not do it for private data, because it would be
| rude.  Constructing an FPI which reflects a public archive is not
| rude, 

Sure it is.  People are going to try to resolve that FPI by going to, and when it eventually fails they'll complain to, not to you.  It's up to the IESG to decide what uses
of their name spaces they are willing to commit to for the long run.

| nor does it violate any ownership rights.  (Do you have any legal
| cases or laws that suggest otherwise?  I would be interested to find
| out more, since presumably the same thing would effect URLs and URNs.)

Read the URN drafts re name space ownership.  No applicable case law 
on URIs yet that I know of, but you've seen the outcome of suits over 
DNS names.

You are asserting an ownership right you cannot back up.  That's dangerous
for one's legal health.  Referring to something by using its URL is one
thing, but using that URL to create a name that lies in someone else's
name space is another matter entirely.  

  Terry Allen    Electronic Publishing Consultant    tallen[at]
    Davenport and DocBook:

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