Note:I recently wrote about this in my personal blog. Couple of colleagues commented that they wanted to see it here as well. Here it is.
Recently, I came across an interesting dilemma and wondered about how others, especially those folk like me who are deeply engrained in standards activities would feel about a particular situation. So, I decided to state a hypothetical problem and ask my questions loud.
Say you are involved in a spec development activity. It is in a private consortium run with its own business rules. It is not yet developed in an open consortium, but the IP rules are somewhat clear. Specs are not published without getting approval first. You have been involved for a long time, spent a lot of energy in this effort. Your company even put people to help with writing the specification, put editorial efforts into this.
One day, you find out that some, but not all, of the companies who have been involved in this effort has submitted a paper to a software conference and even presented the work. They have taken the spec verbatim in most cases, including questionable sections; they neither included any of the contributors from the other companies nor acknowledged all the contributors. You notice that there are additional names added from one of the companies as well. Some of the authors are also authors of the original specs. To add to it, the authors also placed a copy of the paper onto the consortiums website without getting approval or notifying anyone.
Which of the following describes your reaction?
You feel very much appalled. It looks very unethical to you. You look at those colleagues with new glasses and decide to be careful with them in the future.
You resent your name not being on the paper. You wonder why you were singled out and not being asked to be included.
You think it is ok. There is no bylaws/rules that require review of paper submissions and procedures, so this behavior is permissable. What is the big deal.
You beat yourself up. You believe in “publish first, ask forgiveness later”. You could have submitted a paper, too, if you acted earlier.
Who cares. Your name is on the spec. You slapped it there anyway. There is going to be a lot of publications of this material and you will get another one.
Neither of the above. (Would like to know if that was your choice).