From: John Arras <jra@cs.umd.edu>

Date: Tue, 2 Oct 2001 18:08:28 -0400 (EDT)

To: <www-patentpolicy-comment@w3.org>

cc: <jra@cs.umd.edu>, <jra@math.umd.edu>

Message-ID: <Pine.SOL.4.33.0110021731120.7291-100000@wonka.cs.umd.edu>

Date: Tue, 2 Oct 2001 18:08:28 -0400 (EDT)

To: <www-patentpolicy-comment@w3.org>

cc: <jra@cs.umd.edu>, <jra@math.umd.edu>

Message-ID: <Pine.SOL.4.33.0110021731120.7291-100000@wonka.cs.umd.edu>

Hello, I am a mathematician with a strong interest in programming and computers. I oppose patenting algorithms, no matter how difficult they are to come up with, no matter if they are wrapped in words to relate the math to the real world (thereby making them a word problem), and no matter whether the solution is eventually implemented using pen and paper or a thousand machines. I understand that my view is the minority view, and that there are pressures to allow patented mathematics to enter the standards that you set for the Web. The point of standards is to allow everyone to have a common framework that anyone can use to create things that can interoperate. Even though the government lets entities own pieces of mathematics, the owners should not be allowed to press their private mathematics onto a standards body so that they can then collect a tax from everyone who wants to use that kind of math as part of the standard. A standards body that wishes to be the standard for everyone should not allow its standards to exclude people. There are many people who do math for fun or for research, but not for profit. One change under consideration is standards with RAND licenses. If a "standard" comes with a pricetag, then anyone who cannot or will not pay the price for access to that mathematics will be prevented from using it. This is the case even with a RAND-type license. Such a license could state that there is an initial fee to be paid for using this mathematics, and even if the fee is low ($100US) or so, eventually there may be so many fees that, at some point, even small-medium businesses may get priced out of implementing standards. The same applies if there is a per-unit license, as many people give away things (such as Apache which runs a large percentage of webservers). If one million copies of Apache are given away each year, and the total licensing for these standards comes to $10 per copy (assuming many licenses that will be released with licensing fees if this proposal goes through), then how will Apache come up with $10 million for something they give away free for anyone to use? The only other choice for them is to stop following the standards, and the Web splits into many incompatible standards based on whether or not the implementors can afford the current pricetag for the "latest" standard. The other option is to move at a slower pace, but only accept ideas that can be used freely. This would be a true standard, because anyone can then use these mathematical ideas without having to pay an entrance fee. In this case, the w3c would probably be much slower in adopting standards, but it would be assured that those standards are available for all to use. That's what a standard should be. It should be something that anyone can use, so that everyone will use it. If entities want to collect a fee for using some sort of mathematics, then let them, but there is no reason to let them press their math onto everyone else to make everyone else pay a tax for using that math. If that happens, they get to pick and choose who can use the standard based on the price of admission, and the standard isn't a standard anymore, since not everyone can or will use it. That should be the choice they have to make: charge a price for their ideas OR get their ideas used by everyone as part of a standard, but as they say, they can't have their cake and eat it, too. And those are your options: keep the standards open so that they are true standards usable by anyone, thereby (possibly) slowing down progress of the standards, or allow companies to start charging admission, and thereby (possibly) speeding up the process of standards adoption, but then the standards become the standards only for those who can pay. John ArrasReceived on Tuesday, 2 October 2001 18:08:46 GMT

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