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

Objections to patent policy

From: Pete Black <pete.black@metering.co.nz>
Date: Wed, 03 Oct 2001 10:33:56 +1200
Message-ID: <3BBA40D4.5060105@metering.co.nz>
To: www-patentpolicy-comment@w3.org
As requested, i am writing to clarify the principal reason why i object 
to the RAND patented-standards proposal.

The issue is clear. By allowing patented technologies into standards, 
without an unequivocal and unlimited free license to accompany use of 
these patented technologies, free software/open source developers like 
myself are effectively locked out of using that standard.

There is no such thing as 'Reasonable and Non-Discriminatory' licensing, 
because that is an oxymoron.

If i don't have $5000 to license a standard, i cannot employ that 
standard in my work.

This is no problem for big companies like Apple, Microsoft and HP, who 
can simply not pay and tie the issue up in court for years if they like.

Or they can pay and it won't even make a dent in the bottom line.

Neither of these things are possible for the independent or open-source 
developer, so how is this either reasonable or non-discriminatory?

The 'World Wide Web' is precisely that, and by the looks of things it is 
only a few large U.S comapnies who are trying to dictate the future of 
web standards.

At the very least, this raises large issues with respect to 
international issues.

i.e. Software patents are not legal in many countries. Does this mean 
that developers in China can employ your standards royalty-free, but 
developers in the U.S cannot? How is this Non-Discriminatory?

By adopting fee-based licensing for W3C standards, you are locking 
people out from contributing to the construction of the world wide web.

Open-Source developers cannot use fee-based standards, since their 
software does not generate revenue, nor is it licensed on an individual 
basis, and it is licensed to  encourage third parties to modify and 
distribute it, often without the original authors knowledge.

You are locking people out from viewing the world wide web. People who 
are too poor to afford the latest copy of Windows XS with it's browser 
capable of viewing these fee-based content types will be locked out of 
viewing that content.

There will be no alternative, since Free programs will legally prevented 
from supporting these standards.

This is, to me, perfectly acceptable for proprietary standards, but in 
no way is it appropriate for the W3C to endorse such practices.

You are driving the world wide web into the hands of the few companies 
with the biggest legal teams, deepest pockets and strongest drive to 
stamp out any competition.

In summary, i specifically reject the notion that any fee-based 
licensing for W3C standards is either Reasonable or Non-Discriminatory, 
and ask that if the W3C resolve to include patented technologies, they 
ensure that such technologies are licensed royalty-free and non-exclusively.

Thanks for listening


Pete Black

Systems Administrator
Total Metering Ltd/Elect Data Services
Received on Tuesday, 2 October 2001 18:29:19 UTC

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