Today, as discussed elsewhere by Dave Winer and Dan Gillmor, UserLand Software is transferring all right, title and interest in the RSS 2.0 specification to the Berkman Center at Harvard Law School, and we are re-releasing it, verbatim, to the public via Creative Commons‘ Attribution/ShareAlike license. We believe that this simple, elegant step is an important one toward eliminating some of the fractiousness that has befallen the debate over the future of the RSS format.
Why is the Berkman Center involved in this matter? After lots of careful consideration, we decided that by serving as a holder, in essence as a trustee, of the specification — no claim is made to the format itself, of course — and releasing the document via a public-spirited license, we could help at the margins in the development of important technologies. We saw also a chance to demonstrate the effectiveness of the Creative Commons license system, something that we believe is critical to the future of the Net.
What is the Berkman Center not doing? Lots, of course. We expect to stay involved in debates that we consider important to the development of the Net, pursuant to our mission, but we’re not trying to become a standards-making body. Nothing of the sort. We know that there are many people who know much more about this matter — Dave Winer, to be sure, one of our own, among them — and that the development of formats for syndication should be left to the community at large.