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Revision of IUCr policy statement on STAR/CIF

  • Subject: Revision of IUCr policy statement on STAR/CIF
  • From: Brian McMahon <bm@xxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Wed, 17 May 2000 14:48:02 +0100 (BST)
Dear CIF Developers

For some time the IUCr policy on its STAR and CIF file formats has been
governed by a statement published on the web and in other places (see
http://www.iucr.org/iucr-top/ipr.html). And for some time there have been
complaints that this has seemed an intimidating legal document, more likely
to deter developers from writing software for CIF applications than to
encourage them. Therefore a working party has been attempting to produce a
new policy statement which emphasises the desire to make this a community
standard, and actively encourages the development of compliant software.

Your response to this draft is welcome. Please note that this has not yet
been redrafted by professional lawyers, and some tinkering with the wording
is almost inevitable before it is formally accepted. There are also some
details to be completed regarding the canonical URLs for finding the

What we would find most useful at this stage is some idea of whether such
a statement would make it easier or more difficult for you to commission,
write, redistribute and sell CIF software.


(PS I shall be away from my office for a week, so please understand if
there is no immediate response from me to any direct queries.)


  VERSION: May 17 2000
             The IUCr Policy for the Protection and the Promotion 
                     of the STAR File and CIF Standards 
               for Exchanging and Archiving Electronic Data.
  The Crystallographic Information File (CIF)[1] is a standard for information
  interchange promulgated by the International Union of Crystallography (IUCr).
  CIF (Hall, Allen & Brown, 1991) is the recommended method for submitting
  publications to Acta Crystallographica Section C and reports of crystal
  structure determinations to other sections of Acta Crystallographica and many
  other journals. The syntax of a CIF is a subset of the more general STAR 
  File[2] format. The CIF and STAR File approaches are used increasingly in 
  the structural sciences for data exchange and archiving, and are having a
  significant influence on these activities in other fields. 
  The IUCr's interest in the STAR File is as a general data interchange
  standard for science, and its interest in the CIF, a conformant derivative
  of the STAR File, is as a concise data exchange and archival standard 
  for crystallography and structural science.
  To protect the STAR File and the CIF as standards for interchanging and 
  archiving electronic data, the IUCr, on behalf of the scientific community,
        * holds the copyrights on the standards themselves,
        * owns the associated trademarks and service marks, and
        * holds a patent on the STAR File.
  These intellectual property rights relate solely to the interchange 
  formats, not to the data contained therein, nor to the software used 
  in the generation, access or manipulation of the data.
  The sole requirement that the IUCr, in its protective role, imposes on 
  software purporting to process STAR File or CIF data is that the following 
  conditions be met prior to sale or distribution.
  *  Software claiming to READ files written to either the STAR File or the 
     CIF standard must be able to extract the pertinent data from a file 
     conformant to the STAR File syntax, or the CIF syntax, respectively.
  *  Software claiming to WRITE files in either the STAR File, or the CIF,
     standard must produce files that are conformant to the STAR File syntax, 
     or the CIF syntax, respectively.
  *  Software claiming to READ definitions from a specific data dictionary 
     APPROVED BY THE IUCr must be able to extract any pertinent definition 
     which is conformant to the dictionary definition language (DDL)[3] 
     associated with that dictionary.
  The IUCr, through its Committee on CIF Standards, will assist any developer
  to verify that software meets these conformance conditions.
  [1] CIF:       is a data file conformant to the file syntax defined at  
                 http://www.iucr.org/iucr-top/cif/[...URL to be completed...]
  [2] STAR File: is a data file conformant to the file syntax defined at  
                 http://www.iucr.org/iucr-top/cif/[...URL to be completed...]
  [3] DDL:       is a language used in a data dictionary to define data 
                 items in terms of "attributes". Dictionaries currently 
                 approved by the IUCr, and the DDL versions used to 
                 construct these dictionaries, are listed at  
                 http://www.iucr.org/iucr-top/cif/[...URL to be completed...]

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