W3C home > Mailing lists > Public > www-patentpolicy-comment@w3.org > October 2001

W3C patent policy

From: Richard Stallman <rms@gnu.org>
Date: Sun, 30 Sep 2001 23:51:42 -0600 (MDT)
Message-Id: <200110010551.XAA04108@aztec.santafe.edu>
To: www-patentpolicy-comment@w3.org
If the World-Wide Web is indeed to remain "world-wide", it must not
depend on restricted standards.  The W3C cannot prevent others from
developing or using restricted standards, but it should not lend its
name to them.

Therefore, the W3C should adopt a policy that all important standards
must have free patent licenses (and thus allow free software).
Perhaps there are some standards for specialized kinds of
business-to-business communication which are sufficiently unimportant
that it may not be disastrous if they are patented.  These standards
do not really deserve the term "world-wide", but they may still be
worth the W3C's attention.  But standards that really are of
world-wide importance must be free.

The "back-door RAND" problem pointed out by Adam Warner is especially
crucial.  When the W3C decides that a certain standard ought to be
patent-free, no circumstances should be allowed to annul that
decision.

Aside from these substantive changes in policy, the W3C should also
stop using the term "reasonable and non-discriminatory", because that
term white-washes a class of licenses that are normally neither
reasonable nor non-discriminatory.  It is true that they do not
discriminate against any specific person, but they do discriminate
against the free software community, and that makes them unreasonable.

I suggest the term "uniform fee only", or UFO for short, as a
replacement for "reasonable and non-discriminatory".
Received on Monday, 1 October 2001 01:51:45 GMT

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