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

Comments on Janet Daly's statement

From: Richard Stallman <rms@gnu.org>
Date: Thu, 4 Oct 2001 00:08:07 -0600 (MDT)
Message-Id: <200110040608.AAA11284@aztec.santafe.edu>
To: www-patentpolicy-comment@w3.org
Nathan Cochrane quoted Janet Daly, a W3C representative, thus:

    W3C also recognises that software patents exist (and patent issues
    have become more prevalent with the growth of the Web), and ignoring
    them will do more harm than good. W3C is working hard to reach
    consensus in an area where there is an obvious tension, and to strike
    a balance among diverse interests.

If this quotation is accurate, it represents a deep misunderstanding,
both of what we are asking for, and of how a responsible civic-minded
organization should conduct itself in regard to software patents.

We are not asking the W3C to ignore software patents, any more than we
ignore them.  Quite the contrary: we call on the W3C to defend free
software from the assault of patent holders.  Free software built the
web and helped created the need for the W3C; now certain businesses
seek to prohibit our work, and ask you to help.  I hope that you will
feel honor-bound to reject such a request.

To cure the problem of software patents requires federal legislation,
which neither we nor you can bring about unilaterally.  What you can
do, directly, is to reduce the influence of software patents over use
of the Internet, by refusing to standardize on protocols or formats
that are obstructed by patents for any generally important purpose.
In so doing, you can also help strengthen the call for changes in
patent law to exclude programs from the scope of patents, and thus
contribute to a long-term solution.

Balance between interests is a natural goal when all the interests are
legitimate, but software patents are illegitimate, unfair to software
developers.  Rather than giving weight to the interests of software
patent holders, we should resist and oppose them.

Consensus is a worthwhole goal in resolving disagreements, but there
can be no consensus involving free software developers on a plan that
would exclude free software from some important standard.  If you want
to find consensus, you need to look in a different place.
Received on Thursday, 4 October 2001 02:08:09 GMT

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