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

Incompatible with GPL

From: Ian Bicking <ianb@colorstudy.com>
Date: Tue, 02 Oct 2001 22:36:46 -0500
To: www-patentpolicy-comment@w3.org
Message-Id: <20011002223646P.ianb@colorstudy.com>
As a Free Software programmer, I would be very sad to see the W3C
creating standards with RAND patents.  To do so would *completely*
alienate me from the standards created.  I write most of my software
under the GPL, as well as modifying and extending software licensed
under the GPL.  I could not in any way implement standards that had
non-royalty-free patents.  In particular, to quote the GPL:

    7. If, as a consequence of a court judgment or allegation of
    patent infringement or for any other reason (not limited to patent
    issues), conditions are imposed on you (whether by court order,
    agreement or otherwise) that contradict the conditions of this
    License, they do not excuse you from the conditions of this
    License. If you cannot distribute so as to satisfy simultaneously
    your obligations under this License and any other pertinent
    obligations, then as a consequence you may not distribute the
    Program at all. For example, if a patent license would not permit
    royalty-free redistribution of the Program by all those who
    receive copies directly or indirectly through you, then the only
    way you could satisfy both it and this License would be to refrain
    entirely from distribution of the Program.

I interpret this to mean that any GPLed program that implemented a
patent that was not universally royalty-free would be

I firmly believe that GPLed software, and the Free Software community,
are far more valuable to the internet and the W3C than any software
that includes patents.  We embody freedom and the exchange of ideas,
which is the soul of the web and the internet.  The patent-holders
embody false scarcity and restrictions for the purpose of greed, the
greatest risks to the web and the internet.

The W3C must choose: will you part ways with the Free Software and
most of the Open Source Software communities?  We have already made
out choice in the wording of the GPL.  We have spoken and will act on
principle.  If necessary, we will make our own standards if the W3C
decides to exclude us.

You are right: the W3C must address software patents.  That does not
mean the the W3C must accept software patents.

Ian Bicking           Colorstudy Web Design
ianb@colorstudy.com   http://www.colorstudy.com
4769 N Talman Ave, Chicago, IL 60625 / (773) 275-7241
Received on Tuesday, 2 October 2001 23:34:19 UTC

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