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

RE: [WD]: Patents on Web Standards - dropping the petition

From: <S.Marshall@open.ac.uk>
Date: Fri, 5 Oct 2001 10:17:52 +0100
Message-ID: <ACAB691EBFADD41196340008C7F355856CCE9D@tesla.open.ac.uk>
To: list@webdesign-l.com
> > No, I don't think it will help with the problem of software
> > patents.  I just think that in working out what the W3C should
> > do, no particular moral weight should be given to the
> > presence of software patents.
> 
> Do you see a danger of MS essentially ignoring standards/W3C 
> and essentially
> using its own home cooking instead then?

I don't know if Tim does, but I don't, at least not in a major way. Due
partly to tremendous amounts of pressure from designers and site developers,
Microsoft have been anxious to promote the W3C standards support of its
browsers. 'W3C' has a significant brand name amongst designers and that
isn't going to go away overnight. 

Actually, I think it's much more likely to damage that brand if 'little
people' (the open source community, designers) break away from the W3C over
this issue, than if certain companies wish to implement 'standards' that are
patented, charged for, and thereby restricted. (Via another standards
organisation or whatever).

Personally I think it's obviously correct that the W3C cannot change the
world of bogus software patents. But they can at least take an ethical and
practical stand against these patents by supporting standards which are not
patented (checking this is important) or which are patented but by
organisations which have agreed that the patent can be used by anybody at no
charge (possibly with the usual 'but if you use this patent, you can't make
any charges against us with your patent' disclaimers).

I think the W3C should be a bastion of sanity *against* patents; that may be
a difficult position for them to hold, since they are made up of members
from many large corporations, but so far they have managed it; they support,
for example, the PNG format among others. 

The W3C should be providing the guiding light that shows: here is the right
way to build the Web, and to do it without requiring a tax on all software
developers, or forbidding open-source and shareware developers from becoming
involved. If there are certain standards which this means the W3C cannot
define because companies are not willing to license their patents for free,
then that is fine - they can go somewhere else to get their standard
registered, with the slightly lower kudos value that results, and
alternative, free-to-use standards will become part of the 'Web vision'. 

The W3C should be defining standards for the World Wide Web - not for the
Corporate Narrow Web. Freedom (in financial terms as well, because that's
part of the same deal) is a key, key factor.

--sam
Received on Friday, 5 October 2001 05:20:21 GMT

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