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

Re: We must fork the SVG standard (was: SVGA 1.0 uses RAND -> DO NOT ! implement it, DO NOT ! use it)

From: Chris Lilley <chris@w3.org>
Date: Sat, 06 Oct 2001 16:11:45 +0200
Message-ID: <3BBF1121.37BECFD7@w3.org>
To: Jason Antony <jemvai777@yahoo.com.au>
CC: www-patentpolicy-comment@w3.org


Jason Antony wrote:
> 
> Chris Lilley <chris@w3.org> wrote:
> >
> > Daniel Phillips wrote:
> > >
> > > But the fact remains that the SVG standard was formalized before the
> > > patent policy on which it relies was formally adopted.
> >
> > Yes. Thats what 'beta testing' means.
> 
> What is your justification for including a beta standard [RAND] in a
> finalised one [SVG]?

There is no normative reference from SVG to PPF so it meets the usual
ules for such things. Actually there is no non-normative reference
either.

> > Because the delay would have been pountless and because it was better to
> > list known patent clzaims than to pretend that patents do not exist and
> > to sit there hoping.
> 
> You are right in requiring patent holders to list known patent claims. But
> the next course of action should have been getting them to provide
> implementations on RF terms, not offer them the RAND alternative, which
> would've been the obvious choice from any short-sighted perspective.

They were in fact all asked to provide RF license. Most did. Some would
not, and they are listed on the public page for all to see.

> This is why the 'pointless delay' could've ensured that SVG was a standard
> with no encumbrances, as it should've been.

You have not shown that SVG is encumbered.

> > >  Having jumped the gun, you created the
> > > impression of surreptitious intent.
> >
> > Only to minds that wish to think that way.
> 
> Judging by the overwhelming number of posters who have made that clear, I'd
> comfortably conclude most minds *do* think that way, don't you agree? 

No. I agree that there have been a lot of posts saying that RAND is bad
(either in genmeral, or specific aspects of it).

I have not seen a lot of posters, or even many, or evan a few, who have
claimed "serruptitious interest" on the part of the SVG working group.

> Or is
> this list merely a joke, deceiving the public into thinking they're making
> a difference, only for the W3C to laugh them off and summarily dismiss?

Careful, your paranoia is showing ;-) No it is not, which is why I have
expended considerable effort over the last week in responding to
comments on this list and on other lists and in private mail.

> > > So, the SVG standard was formalized and includes RAND licencing
> > > arrangements even though RAND licencing was not an official W3C
> > > policy at the time.
> >
> > Nor was RF an official policy at that time, which you seem to want to
> > gloss over. The official policy did not exist.
> 
> Really? Do I have to quote W3C's goals all over again? 

A goal is not a legally enforceable policy. Please try and see the
difference.

> Explain how would
> they be achieved if any roadblock is laid in the implementation and
> adoption of a standard?

You seem to assume I am going to disagree with you on that statement. I
do not.
> 
> > > A patent-encumbered internet standard is far worse for
> > > the public than no standard at all.
> >
> > That is why it is important to flush out such patents and to call for
> > them to be disclosed upfront rather than being surprised five or ten
> > years later.
> 
> Absolutely. And then the W3C should make it a non-negotiable requirement
> that WG members should never use patented tech unless they're willing to
> offer an implementation with no restrictions whatsoever.

Which we can do once we are able to insist, to make requirements, etc.
Which involves making the eventual PPF a Recommendation and changing the
W3C Process document and altering the W3C membership agreement.

> > Naturally we are in fact attempting to do the opposite - to make clesar
> > what patent claims have been made so that the developer comunity is
> > aware of them and can judge their relevance, and naturally you will not
> > agree because you want a handy target to demonize.
> 
> To deal with patents, W3C must enforce the condition that all WG members
> must agree to provide patented tech on an unrestricted basis, or not at
> all. This is what the web community wants of you.

That has been made entirely clear.

> Nor are we demonising anyone. 

Glad to hear it.

> If you peruse the list archive, you'll find
> the majority of mails have pointed out valid criticisms of the RAND
> proposal, and the pitfalls of taking this route.

Yes, and I would like to take the opportunity to thank those who have
read the PPF and made specific and detailed comments on it, especially
if they included well-argued and clear alternative wording for specific
sections of it. This will make the job of the Patent Policy working
groupa lot easier in processing the contents of this email archive.

> 
> > >  A patent-encumbered internet standard
> > > enshrines the right of a patent holder to charge a toll on the
> > > internet.  It is much better to write a new standard that is not
> > > encumbered by patents, and it must be the responsibility of the W3C to
> > > do exactly that.  You appear to be trying to evade that responsibility.
> >
> > I appreciate that for those who like to think in simplistic terms, it is
> > much more comforting to believe that. That is why you consistently
> > ignore all references to RF in the PPF and instead make out that W3C is
> > trying to force everyone to go RAND. I appreciate that makes a better
> > story.
> 
> It's NOT about making a better story.

(My comment was aimed only at those individuals who were indeed making
stories and who were looking for simlified, good vs evil stories.
Clearly it does not apply to the majority on this list who are not.)

> It's NOT about W3C forcing its WG members to use RAND.

OK, good. Some comments on this list seemed to believe that W3C had done
a U-turn and now considered RAND to be universally applicable for all
W3C work. I am glad to report that this is not the case, and glad that
you agree this is not the case.

> It IS about patent holders preferring to offer their tech on RAND than RF.

OK, but without a legal policy we can't require that.

> It IS about the dubious validity of software patents, 

Now personally I fully agree with you there but as I said in another
thread on this list, W3C did not invent software patents. Nor is W3C
sufficiently powerful that it can force all countries that allow
software patents to abandon them. So, along with everyone else,if W3C
cannot change this particular legislation then it has to come up with
ways of dealing with it. So the validity or otherwise of software
patents, while important and interesting, is off topic for this list in
the sense that, regardless of arguments made, W3C is not actually able
to do anything about that.

>and that they have no place in open, global standards.

Wheras that subject is indeed right on topic for this list.

> It IS about free/open source developers unable to implement these
> technologies due to their restrictions on use, or royalties.

Yes, agreed. I already mentioned that W3C is itself an Open Source
software developer.

> It IS about the consequent fragmentation of the web.

I agree with the concer there, too.

> It IS about the W3C commiting an act that is in direct contradiction with
> its goals.

That is a matter of opinion, although since the PPF carefully does not
express a preference for RF over RAND I can see how you would interpret
it that way and how others would interpret it as a preference of W3C for
RAND over RF.

> It IS about the W3C being ignored by the web community, losing power to a
> truly open alternative organisation, and withering into oblivion.

Naturally that would concern me also.

-- 
Chris
Received on Saturday, 6 October 2001 22:55:30 GMT

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