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

Re: Janet Daley's comments to LinuxToday

From: Karsten M. Self <kmself@ix.netcom.com>
Date: Sun, 30 Sep 2001 23:40:48 -0700
To: www-patentpolicy-comment@w3.org
Message-ID: <20010930234048.C19679@navel.introspect>
Janet Daly posted a notice to LinuxToday.  I'm replying to it inline
here.

It's 11:15 pm of September 30 as I start this email.  I plan to duck
under the wire.

> Since the publication of Adam's article, many Linux Today readers have
> written to voice disagreement with the current Working Draft of the
> W3C Patent Policy Framework.
> 
> For those of you not familiar with how W3C works: W3C puts documents
> out for public comment, announces them, and is obliged to respond to
> questions and critiques. This document was no different; in fact, not
> only was the document announced on the W3C Homepage six weeks ago, the
> WG produced both a FAQ and backgrounder, and the announcement was
> carried on a variety of syndication services which rely on RSS feeds.

If this is in fact the case, I repeat my call for the W3C, and I
presume, Ms. Daly if she is responsible for publicity of actions, to
*seriously* reconsider its notification policies.

As I previously noted, a Google search (as of earlier this afternoon)
produced *no* references to the referenced draft in the first two pages
of results.  As a credit to Google's responsiveness, the document itself
now tops the list.

The chronology of responses to this draft speaks to the utter lack of
awareness of the draft and its implications:

  - August 10, 2001:  discussion list posted.

  - August 16, 2001:  draft published.

  - August 22-28:  5 spam mailings posted to list.

  - August 26:  First topical post to discussion by Hartmut Pilch, well
    known to gnu.misc.discuss, asks what impacts of RAND for free
    software might be.  There is no response to this post.

  - September 1 - 20:  5 additional spam postings to the list are made.

  - September 24:  First topical post is made to list for the month, by
    a W3C staff member.

  - Sept 27-28:  Three posts are made to list detailing concerns
    regarding RAND and free software.  No response is made.

  - September 29-30:  747 posts are made to the list.  Wups...I guess
    the word got out.  Respondants include Jermey Allison (Samba),
    Russell Nelson (moderator, Free Software Business mailing list), Jay
    Sulzberger (LXNY), Alan Cox (Linux kernel developer), and many, many
    other prominant members of the free software community.  Response is
    overwhelmingly negative.

I'm afraid what we've got here is a failure to communicate.


> As many of you may have missed the August announcement of the draft, 

Let's examine this closely:

  - Richard Stallman, well known opponent to software patents, missed
    the August 16 "announcement".

  - Slashdot, a discussion site of some note, with a strong free
    software following, missed the August 16 "announcement", despite its
    focus on electronic legal issues with YRO (your rights online).

  - LinuxToday, which certainly featured this story prominantly today,
    missed the August 16 "announcement"

  - The Register, which has made something of a specialty of uncovering
    shenanigans in standards setting groups (I'll draw your attention to
    Andrew Orlowski's excellent scoop and coverage of the CPRM story),
    missed the August 16 "announcement".

  - To cut to the chase:  InfoWorld, CNET, Linux Weekly News, Linux
    Journal, Declan McCullaugh's "Politech" list, Reuters, and the 60+
    mailing lists I follow, all missed the August 16 "announcement".

Hell.  *I* missed the announcmenet, despite being in a _two day_
meeting, discussing free software legal issues, including standards,
RAND and RF policies, which included Scott Peterson, one of the members
of the draft committee, a meeting which included, among others,
representatives from the FSF, OSI, and Linux Journal.

As has been noted, this is a very serious, sweeping, policy  change for
W3C.  If such a change is proposed, gathers *no* response in six weeks,
and gathers an avalanch of *747 VERY CONCERNED REPLIES* in the closing
two days of the review period, two things are very clear:

  - The proposed change is seriously flawed.
  - The procedures followed are *highly* suspect.


> I include the links here for your reference. I would ask that you
> consider reading these documents as "item 0" in Adam's "What you can
> do" list.

Your response comes in the final hours (50 minutes) of the review
period.  There simply *is not time* for the community, which is
generally not familiar with W3C policies, procedures, and context, can
assimilate and comment meaningfully on these issues in the remaining 49
minutes.

Moreover, where issues *were* raised in the past, there has been zero,
zip, zilch, nada response from W3C.  Given the fact that once response
*was* received it was felt necessary for the Head of Communications,
W3C, to respond to a general-discussion GNU/Linux news site, the earlier
silence becomes more ominious.

> Announcement: archived with date at http://www.w3.org/News/2001 FAQ:
> http://www.w3.org/2001/08/16-PP-FAQ Backgrounder:
> http://www.w3.org/2001/08/patentnews W3C Patent Policy Framework:
> http://www.w3.org/TR/2001/WD-patent-policy-20010816/
> 
> For more information on how W3C works in general, I invite you to read
> the W3C Process Document: http://www.w3.org/Consortium/Process/

Action item:

    Extend the review period for two months.  The documents will be
    read.  In detail.  The current deadline of September 30, 2001, is to
    be voided.


> As of now, many comments sent to W3C's Patent Policy Comment list
> simply say, "Don't!" By responding in this manner, writers give the
> Working Group nothing on which to build a constructive response or to
> consider. 

Quite to the contrary, as discussed at length in this messsage.

The volume and utter rejection of the proposal should be providing the
W3C with ample guidance regarding both the policy, and W3C procedures.

> Should you decide to comment, I suggest here what you can do to help
> W3C make the most of your comments, and help it be in a position to
> act on them:
> 
> 1. Read the draft itself. (You may find the FAQ and backgrounder
> useful.) 2. Provide your comments directed at specific sections of the
> draft with which you object.  3. Ask questions where you find the
> language of the draft itself unclear.  4. If you make philosophical
> objections, please base it on your reading of the draft.
> 
> W3C welcomes all comments - critical and otherwise - on its documents.
> I would say though, that the preference is for substantiated comments.
> This type of comments leads to action; at the very least, they demand
> consideration on behalf of the Working Group, as well as a thoughtful
> response.
> 
> Best regards,
> 
> Janet Daly Head of Communications, W3C 

My concern is not with the free software community and its ability to
survive in the face of ... idiocy, arrogance, subversion, incompetence,
sabotage ... I'm really not sure which is appropriate, on the part of
the W3C.

The concern is the future survival of the W3C as a meaningful,
respected, functional standards organization.

The W3C is now on notice.

11:28 pm, September 30, 2001

Peace.

-- 
Karsten M. Self <kmself@ix.netcom.com>        http://kmself.home.netcom.com/
 What part of "Gestalt" don't you understand?              Home of the brave
  http://gestalt-system.sourceforge.net/                    Land of the free
   Free Dmitry! Boycott Adobe! Repeal the DMCA!  http://www.freesklyarov.org
Geek for Hire                      http://kmself.home.netcom.com/resume.html


Received on Monday, 1 October 2001 02:40:53 GMT

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