[tz] Elliot - I want to talk about the TZ project ASAP...

Bryan J Smith b.j.smith at ieee.org
Fri Oct 21 15:49:37 UTC 2011

I've been a long-time lurker on this list, having a keen interest in embedded development and systems integration of trading and financial platforms that run 24x7 world-wide.  I think Zoneinfo is the most under-valued project in the world, and its usefulness as a resource is going to become quickly apparent shortly (more on that in a bit).

I would like to make the following comments ...

1.  We should stop publicly using phrase like "derived work" and "clean room" and "copyrighted sources."  And to end such commentary, let's get one thing straight, and I wish someone with authority would say this publicly ...

The Olson, Eggert, et al. concentration that is known as Zoneinfo today is an _original_ work of on-going volunteers who constantly report and relay updated time and zoning information from original, government and regulatory sources.  This work has been on-going since 1986, and many other commercial software and publish information resources leverage Zoneinfo without any attribution.  For historical purposes prior to its founding in 1986, Zoneinfo does use other, published sources to verify information, as any standards organization -- from the IEEE to IETF -- does and annotate.  This information is public and the exchange of documented, historical information is a two-way street with many publishers benefiting from the Zoneinfo project as well.

The proof of this will be realized shortly.  Because as the free flow of information in the Zoneinfo project by its world-wide list of volunteers is no longer on-going, many other projects and product will become stagnant -- from non-Zoneinfo compatible commercial software and systems to publishers who were using Zoneinfo for updates as well as to verify time and zoning information for their own works.  This latter reality begs the question how any entity could refer to the Zoneinfo database as a derived work, when it is an original work, and a continuing original work, of public domain facts that many other entities rely on, and only uses other sources and references for verification in the same manner Zoneinfo itself is used by them.

This is the foundation of elementary research and attribution of information already in the public domain.  And in the case of time and zone information, no entity has owned the cost of its research, and it is shared across many, including Zoneinfo being a recognized authority for such concentration, not consumer.

2.  Domestic US and international laws, lawsuits and other filings have continued to harm open standards of public domain information and interoperability

Let us not dive into referring things as US law or US specific.  I have seen my share of German laws, and resulting lawsuits, that can be more constraining than even US law.  And we should even less discussion on how the law applies, as that is for the courts.  We can all agree that both domestic US and international law must be adhered to, but that lawyers will file lawsuits and make arguments in error, or in total stretch of their application.  And this has continually harmed open standards of public domain information and interoperability.

This is very much the case here.  Again, I cannot stress we should avoid all reference to "derived work" and other, wholly inapplicable phrases, because this is about research and publication, reference and sources, of which Zoneinfo and the work of Olson, Eggert, et al has been quite original, repeatedly, and even referenced by others.

3.  The Internet may be international, and international guidance is warranted, but there are still 25, 30, 35 and even 40+ year and still continuing, American or US-based volunteers, plus US taxpayer money at agencies, that have laid or sponsored much of the foundation and continuing work

As an American, I'm biased, and I'm sure this is going to fall on deaf ears with people rolling their eyes, but it must be said.  I've been an outside, but interested party to many of these situations over the last few decades, from IEEE to IEFT.  Nothing makes me cringe more than when people try to make something that is not remotely political into a political view.

Like all community developments, things just grow out of need, sometimes in the least likely of volunteers, their employers, etc..., from the 
most unlikely of places.  This has been the case of many Internet 
projects and standards, just like other open community origins.  Snide 
comments should be stomped upon.  Zoneinfo can be of and by ICANN-IANA, 
all while recognizing its origins and stewardship of its volunteers, and sponsoring entities whether direct or indirect.

<unsolicited opinion>
We should avoid all negative references towards US-based volunteerism and stewardship, which I see done sometimes in the case of Internet history and infrastructure, as well as open, international community projects in general.  It's one thing for a single, national entity to some in lately and assert authority, but that's not the case where.  We're talking a project that is 25 years-old (let alone even older) when most of the foundation and corresponding stewardship was by Americans or US-based individuals, organizations and agencies.  There is no ulterior motives and there are no "control" mechanisms, just a history of effort.

Despite a lot of assumptions many people outside the US has, the average American often shows great and selfless volunteerism and interest in public goods, when completely uncompensated and otherwise not publicly funding (which I know baffles many non-Americans at times).  It's one of the reason why many open, community-based projects often thrive in the US, because we look beyond any funding, private or public, but just because we believe it should be done.  I guess over the last few years, I've seen some very, very, long-time charitable Americans and US-based individuals and entities cut down for various reasons, accused of making the wrong decisions or having ulterior motives, when they were merely there in the beginning, back when it was largely a US-based effort.

So I feel compelled to ask people to keep such things in mind, as a project transitions to international stewardship.
</unsolicited opinion>

Bryan J  Smith       Professional, Technical Annoyance 
Linked Profile:     http://www.linkedin.com/in/bjsmith

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