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

Dear Janet@w3.org

From: No Monopolies <edge-op@lycos.com>
Date: Mon, 01 Oct 2001 12:13:37 -0500
To: www-patentpolicy-comment@w3.org
Message-ID: <KGLDPPIHOELEDBAA@mailcity.com>
Dear Janet@w3.org

I am using a web-based email client, which uses STANDARD protocols (even though the formatting of the message may be treated differently on the receiving end) to voice my objections to:

1. The W3C draft proposal to elevate proprietary methods to standards.

2. The pitiful attempt by the W3C to publicize the proposal, with the result that it almost slipped through without significant public comment.

3. The following ill-conceived and patronizing comment posted to Linux Today by you, along with my responses to each of your points.

<i>
> Dear Readers of Linux Today,
> 
> 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. 
> 
</i>

The sheer volume of responses from LT readers should give you an indication of the degree to which you, the W3C, have misjudged and been mislead in this matter. The datestamps on those messages should provide the Consortium with ample reason to re-evaluate the policies under which draft proposals are "publicized".

<i>
> 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. 
> 
</i>

Where are these syndication services? If you are obliged to respond to questions and critiques by the public, doesn't that imply the obligation to publicize where the public is likely to see the announcement? As one LT reader pointed out, this announcement by the W3C too closely resembles the announcement of the demolition of earth in The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. Maybe after you railroad through this RAND policy you could simply publish your announcements on Post-It[tm] notes in some patented language on a telephone pole outside your office.

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

"May"? I'd say it's pretty much guaranteed that many of us missed it.

<i>
 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.
> 
> 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/
> 
</i>

Oh, you are too kind! Such a wealth of documentation to carefully peruse just before the deadline! Oops. The deadline is already passed. 

<i>
> For more information on how W3C works in general, I invite you to read the W3C Process Document:
> http://www.w3.org/Consortium/Process/
> 
</i>

And even more documents to read. You know, I've seen this sort of thing practiced by sleazy lawyers in hollywood movie scripts. You are just too kind for words, to <b>swamp</b> the public with this deluge of documents to try to absorb in the waning minutes (according to the datestamp on your message) before all public commentary ceases to be accepted by the now-defamed W3C.

<i>
> 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. 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:
> 
</i>

Here's a helpful suggestion concerning the W3C's attempt to lend the weight of its former reputation as a <b>standards</b> body to the attempt by certain corporations to cloak their patented, proprietary <b>methods</b> under a label of "standard": DON'T!

<i>
> 1. Read the draft itself. (You may find the FAQ and backgrounder useful.)
</i>

Oh, yes! Read the draft carefully before making comment. (You may find it useful to take a quick speed-reading course, get a law degree to understand the fine nuances in the draft "proposal" and call Miss Cleo to help understand the effect on the web of the future of having patented web content <b>methods</b> labelled as <b>standards</b>.)

<i>
> 2. Provide your comments directed at specific sections of the draft with which you object.
</i>

Section 1. Overview: "In developing a new patent policy for W3C Activities, our goal is to affirm the Web community's longstanding preference for Recommendations that can be implemented on a royalty-free (RF) basis."

This indicates how out of touch the W3C has become. It is not a longstanding preference, it is a longstanding insistence. This is how the world wide web came into existence and how it became world wide and how it must continue in order to remain a public world wide web rather than a private corporate intranet that happens to have a wide reach.

"Where that is not possible, the new policy will provide a framework to assure maximum possible openness based on reasonable, non-discriminatory (RAND) licensing terms."

This negates the rest of the document's relevance to the world wide web, and if implemented, negates the relevance of the W3C as a standards body for the world wide web. There is no such thing as "reasonable, non-discriminatory (RAND) licensing terms." Standards are the framework, the boundary, within which all may play. Open standards are required for open communications. Closed, proprietary, patented methods are useful only for closed communications, which, of necessity, discriminate against all who choose open communications. The world wide web is open and public. Therefore, any method which requires royalty fees and licensing terms cannot become a web standard, regardless of how wide-spread the owner of the method manages to get the method implemented. Either the W3C is a <b>standards</b> body for an open world wide web, or it is an arbitrator of disputes among corporations over their competing closed <b>methods</b>. 

<i>
> 3. Ask questions where you find the language of the draft itself unclear.
</i>

Ask quickly. Oops. Too late, the time of public commentary is over. So sad, the locomotive is already up to full steam and you spent so much time reading that convoluted language that you missed the train.

<i>
> 4. If you make philosophical objections, please base it on your reading of the draft.
> 
</i>

My objections are foundational: the draft proposes to make a logical impossibility (Reasonable Non-Discriminatory License terms) a basis for standards. The draft proposal causes a split of the W3C into a standards body (Royalty Free) and a marketing dispute arm (RAND). It is standard for drivers to drive on the right side of the road in the U.S. They do not pay a royalty to the road-builder for each trip they make on this right side of the road. Ford Motor Company produces automobiles suitable for right-side of the road driving. Those who choose to use Ford Motor Company's method must pay Ford Motor Company. This does not create a FMC standard.

<i>
> 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.
>
</i>

I welcome standards which are open and public for an open and public world wide web. I do not welcome proprietary methods which erroneously receive the label of "standard". Who owns the patent on tcp/ip? What "Reasonable Non-Discriminatory Licensing terms" apply to html? To whom do I apply for a license to send email in ASCII? These are standards. In short, if there is an encumbrance on a method which prevents its adoption Royalty Free, that method cannot reasonably become a standard of communication on the world wide web. It must remain a competing method of marketing, not a standardized means of transferring data. If the W3C is to be a standards body for the world wide web, such competing methods in the marketplace are outside its concern. 

<i> 
> Best regards,
> 
> Janet Daly
> Head of Communications, W3C
>  
</i>

Does this communication fall within the jurisdiction of a RF Working Group or a RAND Working Group? Do I owe you a Reasonable And Non-Discriminatory License fee for reading your communication?

Again, if a method is found to be encumbered by anything which prevents implementation without royalties, it is a marketing method of a vendor and should compete in the market; it is not a candidate for inclusion in an open standard and should be rejected, not legitimized, by the W3C.

Not Head of Communications,
Just a communicating person,

Terry Vessels



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Received on Monday, 1 October 2001 13:14:22 GMT

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