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Revised statement of policy on CIF

  • To: Multiple recipients of list <comcifs-l@iucr.org>
  • Subject: Revised statement of policy on CIF
  • From: Brian McMahon <bm@iucr.org>
  • Date: Mon, 20 Mar 2000 13:04:58 GMT
Dear Colleagues

In view of the continuing discussion in the software authoring community
about the perceived restrictions of the IUCr CIF/STAR policy document (see
e.g. the latest discussions within the imgCIF list at
http://www.iucr.org/iucr-top/cif/cbf/imgcif-l//msg00138.html), David Brown
and Herbert Bernstein have been working on a revised policy document for CIF.
The current revision is appended below. Your opinions are invited; it is
hoped that COMCIFS can reach a swift consensus on the form of this statement, 
and that we can then release it on open discussion lists within the community.
It is recognised that the final version may require the scrutiny of
professional legal advisers before release, but this is nevertheless a useful 
opportunity to test whether the proposals are likely to be welcomed or
treated with suspicion by the community at large.

At Herbert's suggestion, I have drafted a paragraph (the final one below)
touching on the rights associated with CIFs themselves. Comments on this
paragraph will be especially welcome.

Best wishes

  The Crystallographic Information File (CIF) is a standard 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.  It is used increasingly in structural biology and is having
significant influence on other fields.  In order to help protect the
interests of the community in having a uniform and consistent standard for
interchange and archiving of documents and of data, as well as for use by
software, the IUCr, which holds the copyright on the standard itself, which
is the owner of the associated trademarks and service marks, and which
holds a patent on the STAR File which is the basis of CIF, imposes certain
conditions on the uses of CIF.  The most important of these are that:

  *  Software claiming to read files written in this standard should be
able to read and extract the relevant information from any file written
in this standard, and

  *  Software claiming to write files in this standard should produce
files that conform fully to the standard.

Full details of the standard and conditions for its use may be obtained
from the International Union of Crystallography (http://www.iucr.org).
However, in order to encourage widespread use of CIF, licence for the use
of CIF is granted without the need for further correspondence to any party
adhering in good faith to the conditions above and to the following
additional conditions:

 * This notice must accompany any software which claims to read or write

 * The source code and documentation of the portion of any software which
claims to read and write CIF must be published in the scientific literature
or otherwise made available to all users of the software and to the IUCr
in sufficient detail that all involved can assure themselves that the
software conforms to the CIF standard.  If a charge is made for access to
that source code and documentation, the charge must be modest and reasonable
and consistent with the charges made for access to scientific literature.

 * Copyright in the information stored in a CIF remains with the originator
of that information ("the author") or such other body to which such rights
have been voluntarily transferred by the author. CIFs are designed for
information transfer, and may be copied, transferred or incorporated in
larger data collections so long as the rights of the copyright owner are
preserved and respected.