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

Turning the W3 into an impenetrable oligarchy

From: kjensen <kjensen@sccd.ctc.edu>
Date: Fri, 05 Oct 2001 16:55:05 -0700
Message-ID: <3BBE4859.1080104@sccd.ctc.edu>
To: www-patentpolicy-comment@w3.org
The revolution of the Internet and the collective cooperation among 
large companies, educators, private developers and hackers to adhere to 
Web standards is one of the best things to happen in the past 10 years 
(with some drawbacks, of course). Yes, everything eventually becomes a 
commodity as the new age movement has blossomed into to shaman in a can 
and yoga by Prada. While I strongly support copyrights on material and 
strongly support pay per use or subscription sites, the concept of 
patenting the collective cooperation of telephone networks, cable 
channels, servers, routers, workstations, and software developers around 
the world is absurd. The consortium is attempting to turn back history 
when the revolutionaries have already become the status quo. I suppose 
Roger Daltry warned us about the new boss being the same as the old 
boss, and I suppose we all knew the end was near when the government of 
Iceland sold the rights to the entire nation's DNA to Decode, but that 
does not mean we should surrender willingly.
The proposal for web technology patents to be overseen by a Patent 
Advisory Group essentially empowers large corporations (those who can 
afford patents) to curtail and limit the development of all upstart 
competitors. When th federal government and several states attorneys 
examined a similar behavior, in terms of monopolistic and predatory 
business practices, they filed lawsuits. The essential issue was that 
this practice ultimately hurts consumers who do not have choices and get 
stuck with grossly inferior products. Imagine us all having to drive 
Edsels at the price of a Mercedes. History shows that monopolies stymie 
economic growth and generally precede economic downturn. This move will 
inevitably drive an incomprehensible amount of smaller businesses out of 
business.
If this proposal goes through, and developers wishing to provide 
potentially better solutions and technologies will be prohibited by cost 
from doing so at the hands of a powerful oligarchy (formerly called a 
consortium) then we will all suffer. The Web and the Linux revolution 
has enabled small entrepreneurs, independent journalists, unsigned 
musicians, activists, watchdogs, artists, and everyone else who 
otherwise could not afford a voice.
The laughable part of this proposal is a handful of primarily U.S. 
corporations is trying to govern and profit from the way the rest of the 
world communicates. The W3C should closely study the WTO protests to see 
just how well that concept is received. This attempt also smells of 
Western capitalists attempting to dictate the New World Order (one can 
pretty much argue that they already do and this proposal, and the WTO 
are merely a physical manifestation of what already exists). The trouble 
is, extremist groups around the world will lash out, as we recently saw, 
and the people who will get hurt are the innocents, like the secretaries 
just trying to make enough money to provide a decent living for their 
children.
This move comes when the Web was finally starting to get interesting. We 
had the http protocol, but we have so many choices as to how to generate 
content - PHP, JSP, Cold Fusion, ASP, Perl, Python, etc. We have a brand 
new WAP protocol poised to revolutionize the concept of a workspace. As 
an educator who prepares web developers, I cringe as this cowardly new 
world scared of another Linus Torvalds in which my students will have 
very few choices of employment. Only the already bankrolled will survive 
and they will become corporate slaves at vampire companies like 
Microsoft where they are told any investments outside of company stock 
is frowned upon (and they really are not even supposed to breed outside 
of "campus").
While I do not have a viable alternative, I still fail to see why such 
patents even need to exist. If it is to rescue dying dot coms, then 
maybe we should step back and look at what happened when the auto 
industry hit the skids, did they propose to patent the highways? I think 
not.
Received on Friday, 5 October 2001 20:02:13 GMT

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