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

Re: The Once and Future Web

From: Daniel J. Weitzner <djweitzner@w3.org>
Date: Wed, 3 Oct 2001 07:57:31 -0400
Message-ID: <012b01c14c02$953f3e40$b07ba8c0@bayt>
To: "Michael Rose" <rose@tele.dtu.dk>, <www-patentpolicy-comment@w3.org>

You have pointed out a key question, in my view. The principle behind the
proposed patent policy is to require this question to be answered on an
activity-by-activity basis. Rather than asking will RAND ever work, the
policy forces us to ask, will RAND work in a particular situation or is the
traditional (for the Web) RF model better. The policy would require that we
answer that question each time we launch a new activity. There's no question
in my own mind, or in what's stated in the policy, that RF has proven to be
extraordinarily successful up until now. This is summed up in the first
consensus point of the policy:

"Importance of interoperability for core infrastructure, lower down the
stack: Preservation of interoperability and global consensus on core Web
infrastructure is of critical importance. So it is especially important that
the Recommendations covering lower-layer infrastructure be implementable on
an RF basis. Recommendations addressing higher-level services toward the
application layer may have a higher tolerance for RAND terms. " (section

I understand that many would like us to preclude RAND altogether. My believe
is that though RAND is unknown and potentially disruptive territory for the
Web, we should not rule it out completely. Rather, we should have to make a
very clear decision, visible to the entire community, if we chose to go in
that direction.

Thanks for your comments and keep an eye out for the next draft of the



----- Original Message -----
From: "Michael Rose" <rose@tele.dtu.dk>
To: <www-patentpolicy-comment@w3.org>
Sent: Wednesday, October 03, 2001 7:35 AM
Subject: The Once and Future Web

> There is a much larger issue lurking beneath the surface of this
> discussion. It is not simply about at what stage a W3C member should
> disclose a potential patent conflict. It is about whether the Web will
> remain a democratic medium or whether it will be subsumed and controlled
> the telecom and broadcast industries. It is a fight over control of the
> medium by controlling the means of production. Patents are a weapon for
> control, but don't mistake them for the enemy.
> The head of W3C's Patent Policy workgroup, Daniel Weitzner, was
> in the Register, ( http://www.theregister.co.uk/content/6/21991.html ).
> Coming from a background of work in the public interest, e.g. with the
> he has long been for a royalty free Web. When the Register asked him what
> changed he answered:
> > "Number is one that overused word, 'convergence'. More and more we're
> > seeing the convergence of the Web into broadcasting, consumer
> > electronics, broadcasting and telecoms, and I would suggest that they've
> > pretty much succeeded in RAND mode," says Weitzner.
> And that brings us to the real issue - how will the Web and traditional
> media coexist? Weizner's quote appears to assume that the Web will become
> just another outlet for traditional media/electronics companies. RAND is a
> tool for making that happen.
> So before we dig into the details of RAND we should be asking questions
> like:
>  - are the industries Weitzner mentions the models we want to emulate?
>  - where does the Web fit into the future media landscape?
>  - what kinds of convergence are desirable for whom?
>  - how can we maintain a democratic and open media?
> Quoting Weitzner again, from his time at the EFF,
> ( http://www.interesting-people.org/199307/0111.html )
> > these key public interest communications policy goals must be kept at
> > forefront:
> >
> > o Diversity of Information Sources: Creating an infrastructure that
> > promotes the First Amendment goal of availability of a maximum possible
> > diversity of view points;
> >
> > o Universal Service: Ensuring a minimum level of affordable,
> > interactive service to all Americans;
> >
> > o Free Speech and Common Carriage: Guaranteeing infrastructure
> > access regardless of the content of the message that the user is
> >
> > o Privacy: Protecting the security and privacy of all communications
> > carried over the infrastructure, and safeguarding the Fourth and Fifth
> > Amendment rights of all who uses the information infrastructure;
> >
> > o Development of Public Interest Applications and Services: Ensuring
> > that public interest applications and services which are not produced by
> > the commercial market are available and affordable.
> Should the Web help meet these policy goals? If so, will RAND help or
> prevent the Web from addressing these policy goals?
> This patent policy proposal has ramifications far beyond who, if anyone,
> should get paid for alpha channels in vector graphics. We must take up the
> real discussion now or find ourselves with no options later.
> Best
> Michael
> ************************************************
> Assoc. Prof. Michael Rose
> Center for Tele-Information,    Technical University of Denmark
> (45) 45 25 51 72                mailto:rose@tele.dtu.dk
> Off the Desktop - http://converge.cti.dtu.dk/news
> 'and what is the use of a computer' thought Alice 'without pictures or
> conversation'     with apologies to Lewis Carroll
> *************************************************
Received on Wednesday, 3 October 2001 07:54:46 UTC

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