W3C home > Mailing lists > Public > public-web-plugins@w3.org > September 2003

Re: alternatives and migration scenarios

From: Robin Berjon <robin.berjon@expway.fr>
Date: Thu, 04 Sep 2003 11:32:45 +0200
Message-ID: <3F5706BD.4070107@expway.fr>
To: priority_one@amberdigital.com
Cc: W3C Public Web Plugins List <public-web-plugins@w3.org>

Hi Michael,

IANAL, but I'll try to answer.

Michael Condouris wrote:
> This assumes a worst-case scenario, wherein microsoft issues a "fix"
> which breaks all pages containing plugins.
> 
> 1.  Where flash is essentially the sole entity on a page (interactive
> material / full flash sites), I'm assuming some workaround will probably
> become available that allows the user to launch the flash player.  Fine.

Given access to your server's configuration, you could make it serve index.swf 
as the root document for your website. Of course, this isn't a very pleasant 
thing to do, to say the least...

> 2.  Where flash is used as navigation, I generally offer an alternative
> text menu already so this should be a no-brainer.

Yes, HTML or SVG alternatives should work fine.

> 3.  Where flash is used as decor, I would move to either animated gifs
> (yech), static images, or perhaps SVG.

Yes.

> Which leads me to some questions.  If whoever's doing the FAQ is
> reading, well, I don't know how frequent these are, but here goes.
> 
> 1.  Is SVG implementable in a way which circumvents this patent?  I know
> it *CAN* be implemented where the data is directly in the HTML document,
> but I wonder if using a compressed mode would leave it liable.

SVG's "compressed mode" is just gzip. Embedding it directly in an HTML document 
would require one to gzip the entire document. However, that's not a problem 
since all browsers now understand gzip. The overall size will in fact be 
noticeably slower than HTML+SWF.

There's some support for doing that in IE through binary behaviours, and 
natively in some versions of Mozilla. I'm sure that if such a radical fix 
happens, those that currently ship plugins (eg Adobe, Corel,...) will quickly 
make their functionality available in patent-circumventing ways.

> 2.  What about links to which open a separate application?  (i.e.,
> opening an mp3 in winamp from browser)

I think those are not covered by the patent.

> 3.  Would an implementation of flash, which included the binary within
> the HTML code, circumvent the patent?  Basically this would be like an
> email attachment but designed to play in some part of the screen.

If the browsers support the data: URI scheme, you can include your SWF directly 
inside the HTML using Base64 encoding. Mozilla supports that, don't know about 
IE. Note however that that will inflate the size of your SWF by a largeish 
amount, as well as processing time.

> 4.  What timeline, if any, has been established for the appeals process
> and the IE changes?

I'd love to know.

> 5.  What, if any, liability does a developer have, taking on new clients
> with the knowledge of this decision?  It seems to be under the press'
> radar for the time being, but eventually I fear legal departments are
> going to start telling production departments to halt multimedia
> production until a decision is reached.  I'd hate to see that happen.

That very much depends on the country/state in which you are, and what you tell 
your clients. I'm pretty much certain that in France, if you sold an SWF 
animation to someone in full knowledge of the current risks and without warning 
them, they could probably ask you for their money back if things go wrong (you'd 
have sold them something with "hidden flaws").

I'd say the safest bet is either 1) explain to them in full detail what the 
current situation is, or 2) switch to alternate technology that doesn't really 
suffer from this patent.

-- 
Robin Berjon <robin.berjon@expway.fr>
Research Engineer, Expway        http://expway.fr/
7FC0 6F5F D864 EFB8 08CE  8E74 58E6 D5DB 4889 2488
Received on Thursday, 4 September 2003 05:39:06 UTC

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