[tei-council] IPR inherent in TEI markup

Martin Mueller martinmueller at northwestern.edu
Fri Jul 15 09:01:23 EDT 2011

James and others,

This is a useful thread of correspondence to remember.It is very expensive
to get legal advice: a high-powered IPR lawyer will charge you $400.00 an
hour in Chicago, and the hours add up very quickly. But it may be that at
some point we can get some good and free house from the in-house legal
folks of some of our members.

I take it there is no urgency on this matter, but at some point during the
next year it might be helpful to have a statement.  Such a statement
should, I think, come from the Board but reflect discussion by the Board
and Council.


On 7/15/11 6:50 AM, "James Cummings" <James.Cummings at oucs.ox.ac.uk> wrote:

>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
>>>> making any such addition to the license as James suggestions: Would
>>>> 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
>>>> 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
>tei-council mailing list
>tei-council at lists.village.Virginia.EDU
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