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

Good intentions is the road to hell paved with

From: Valentine Iourine <valentine.iourine@g23.relcom.ru>
Date: Wed, 03 Oct 2001 19:10:49 +0400
Message-ID: <3BBB2A79.8B64F2EC@g23.relcom.ru>
To: www-patentpolicy-comment@w3.org
The proposed changes in W3C standartization policy will ruin the Web in a very
short time. If it comes into effect, any vendor will be able to push his
proprietary specifications to the status of worldwide standard - and will surely
do this, even if it contradicts the other vendors' specifications in this

We all have already seen impressive examples of such behavior from a well-known
software vendor that has proliferated numerous products uncompatible with his
competitors' ones. That vendor's products do generate HTML code that essentially
violates HTML standard and cannot be rendered by any standard-compliant browser,
as it cannot be unambiguously rendered at all. They do implant national character
sets others than national standards and IANA registered charsets, thus making
documents unreadable without special efforts. Hardly this is done by mistake or
incompetence. The proposed standartization policy will encourage and legalize such

Any standartization efforts must be RF-based and only RF-based. This is the only
way to force hardware, software, and content providers to ensure, at least, the
most basic and the most essential compatibility. In no way does this prevent them
from developing, selling and deploying their patent-based products and
compensating their development expences. They can and do use proprietary
techniques for enhancing their products _in addition_ to basic functionality, but
the latter must be provided in any case. 

E.g., consider a website that uses proprietary animation, steaming applications,
active content, etc., but the most important information is presented in plain
HTML viewable by _any_ standard-compliant browser. The current practice of RF
standards is the common denominator for all "enhanced" and "advanced" websites, as
well as networking equipment and software. Without this common functionality
placed at the basement, the Web will rapidly fall apart into major vendors'
proprietary segments.

As a result, the entire computer industry will be driven back into 70s and early
80s of the past century, when PDPs could not easily exchange data with IBMs, IBMs
with Soviet BESMs, etc. In the best case, we will have a few uncompatible
Internets very soon; in the worst case, there will be no Internet at all - there
will be MSNet, SunNet, AdobeNet, MacromediaNet, etc. Or even isolated portions of
them running on CiscoNet, 3ComNet, etc., if this initiative gains support.

Valentine Iourine
Freelance computer journalist
Received on Wednesday, 3 October 2001 11:28:49 UTC

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