[tdwg-tag] LSID Sourceforge URL & LSID Best Practices

Jonathan Rees jar at creativecommons.org
Tue Sep 1 16:45:26 CEST 2009

I'm not an attorney, but my understanding is that the right to utter a
URI could only be limited either by copyright (as a creative work), by
trademark law, or by trade secret law. I don't think a court would see
most URIs as creative works, and in order for use to be infringing
according to trademark law, it would have to be in a place that would
have the potential to confuse consumers. Trade secret law would apply
only in a contractual setting, such as employment, but I don't think
that's the situation TDWG needs to care about. So I don't think you
are correct - the legal system only gives quite narrow protection to
creators of URIs and other strings. Freedom of speech is always under
threat, but has not disappeared completely.


On Tue, Sep 1, 2009 at 10:32 AM, Bob Morris<morris.bob at gmail.com> wrote:
> Ah, I take your point.  However, it is not about the persistence of
> the URI qua URI, but rather of the "actionability" (e.g.
> resolvability) in the sense of the recent GUID report.


> There are separate issues about the persistence of the identifier
> itself. Some organizations permit their employees to use their DNS
> names for various purposes only during the length of their employment,
> after which they are required to remove all trace of that use of the
> name from the internet, whether such removal is technically feasible
> or not. If I recall correctly, German federal government employees are
> subject to that requirement.  Even when there is no such requirement,
> I should think that an organization that is the registrant of a DNS
> name is likely to assert that it owns that name in most legal
> jurisdictions, and can take whatever legal or technical actions it
> wishes to control its use.  For example, if you produce a URI
> containing the string creativecommons.org today, even with permission
> of the owner of that domain name, it is quite possible that said
> owner, or someone else with one or another ownership of the name
> "creativecommons.org", might tomorrow be able to enforce on all users
> of your URI that they stop using it.
> On Tue, Sep 1, 2009 at 10:02 AM, Jonathan Rees<jar at creativecommons.org> wrote:
>> On Sun, Aug 30, 2009 at 12:29 AM, Bob Morris<morris.bob at gmail.com> wrote:
>>> On Fri, Aug 28, 2009 at 11:52 AM, Jonathan Rees<jar at creativecommons.org> wrote:
>>>> ...
>>>> The fact that ICANN and DNS work as well as they
>>>> do prevents anyone from working on an administratively decentralized
>>>> alternative.
>>> Umm, I would say that DNS is a giant success story about
>>> administratively decentralized technology, but my parsing of this
>>> sentence makes me believe that you think it is not administratively
>>> decentralized but should be.  I suppose only the TLD servers have
>>> their DNS records administered of necessity by a single agency, and
>>> those provide substantial redundancy.
>> Sorry I was not clear. Yes, DNS/ICANN is a success story for
>> decentralization. I was not referring to the system as a whole but
>> rather to individual domain names. If the owner of a domain disappears
>> or reorganizes, then all users of its URIs are screwed - the
>> well-known 404 problem. This phenomenon is what I've been calling an
>> "administrative single point of failure" resulting from
>> "administrative centralization", in contrast to "technical single
>> point of failure". No amount of technical replication can address this
>> vulnerability. Just saying that a URI is "persistent" does not make it
>> so, and we know that domains go south in spite of the best intentions
>> of those who originally create and disseminate its URIs, and in spite
>> of the availability of technical replicas (at other locations) of the
>> data that users need.
>> The only alternative to DNS/ICANN is some alternative to it (sorry) -
>> say, if domain D goes away but a copy of the needed information exists
>> at E, then configure clients somehow to resolve D to E instead of to
>> what ICANN tells you. This is what I've been calling "administrative"
>> redundancy, which has a distinctly different character from mere
>> technical redundancy. My point was just that even though such consumer
>> choice would be wonderful, in principle, and resembles the way that
>> historically robust systems such as the Linnaean system and libraries
>> work (and that would be required in order for many kinds of URN to
>> work), it is a fantasy - it's very unlikely to come about, because
>> DNS/ICANN works so well. (Same argument applies to handle system.)
>> Consumers are left with no power, and putatively-persistent-URI
>> creators, in selfless service to consumers, have to voluntarily take
>> on the burden to just "try very hard" to make domains used in URIs be
>> well-behaved in perpetuity.
>> Jonathan
> --
> Robert A. Morris
> Professor of Computer Science (nominally retired)
> UMASS-Boston
> ram at cs.umb.edu
> http://bdei.cs.umb.edu/
> http://www.cs.umb.edu/~ram
> http://www.cs.umb.edu/~ram/calendar.html
> phone (+1)617 287 6466

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