[tei-council] IPR inherent in TEI markup

James Cummings James.Cummings at oucs.ox.ac.uk
Fri Jul 15 07:50:45 EDT 2011

Unfortunately, a case (which involves TEI markup) being 
considered by our legal services at the moment throws this 
entirely into doubt.  The GPLv2 license applies only to the 
Guidelines as a publication, not the actual use of their 
recommendations and the markup structures that the TEI has 
invented. A clear and legally sanctioned legalese statement that 
says "we don't own anything you use the TEI to mark up" would 
probably be a good idea.

To answer Gaby's other question, IPR is expressable in individual 
TEI customizations or extensions, and the worry might be that a 
particular customization used by a sub-community might be 
affected or left open to some malicious legal case.

I don't think this should be top priority (and maybe something 
that should just be punted up to the Board to deal with?) but 
since I had the conversation I thought I should mention it.


On 15/07/11 12:38, Gabriel Bodard wrote:
> Probably yes, so long as we use it as-written and unmodified. If we
> start adding disclaimers and special clauses, that's when we need to be
> careful.
> On 2011-07-15 12:23, Lou Burnard wrote:
>> Surely these issues are dealt with by our explicit use of the GPLv2?
>> On 15/07/11 12:05, Gabriel Bodard wrote:
>>> Not silly at all; sadly a very real concern in this day and age.
>>> A further question, which we may want to speak to a lawyer about before
>>> making any such addition to the license as James suggestions: Would such
>>> a disclaimer, that we do not claim IPR in a text based on it being
>>> marked up in TEI, leave the way open for *someone else* to make such a
>>> claim of IPR, would could later be used against someone using TEI tags?
>>> I know this sounds far-fetched, but again there are unscrupulous
>>> bastards out there, and I'd want to be very sure we're not giving too
>>> much away with such a disclaimer.
>>> G
>>> On 2011-07-15 11:40, James Cummings wrote:
>>>> I recently had a discussion with one of our licensing and IPR
>>>> experts (who will be discussing digital copyright at our Summer
>>>> School) who had some questions about TEI licensing because of an
>>>> issue being looked at by our legal services.
>>>> Far apart from the interesting discussion on whether adding TEI
>>>> markup to a text is considered significantly interpretative to
>>>> count as developing IPR, he had a question about whether use of
>>>> the TEI in specific had any vested rights adhering to the
>>>> Consortium.  i.e. if someone uses the TEI to mark something up
>>>> does the TEI Consortium have rights in the document based on the
>>>> fact that we have designed the structures that are in use.
>>>> Clearly given a) that we describe the TEI as a
>>>> recommendation/standard and b) that we license the Guideline as
>>>> GNU GPLv2 would indicate that we don't want to express any such
>>>> claim.
>>>> Although I think the TEI-C claiming IPR in any TEI marked up text
>>>> is ludicrous, commercial companies have certainly attempt similar
>>>> claims in the past (viz MS). I'd propose that on our current page
>>>> about licensing we simply include a statement to the effect that:
>>>> "The TEI Consortium will not express any claim of IPR in a text
>>>> solely because it is marked up in TEI."  or similar.
>>>> Silly I know,
>>>> -James
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Dr James Cummings, InfoDev,
Computing Services, University of Oxford

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