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


From: Al Johnson <xanxan@altavista.com>
Date: 7 Oct 2001 09:20:22 -0700
Message-ID: <20011007162022.6858.cpmta@c012.sfo.cp.net>
To: www-patentpolicy-comment@w3.org
I don't mean to repeat what might have been said by others already, however, voicing my concerns might add more weight to a commonly shared point of view.

I don't believe any proprietary format (e.g. not open source or public-domain) belongs in a standard or RFC for two main reasons:

1) Since the internet is a public space which was originally meant to facilitate the dissemination of information and its access by anyone using any platform, the interoperability of existing and future equipment should not be compromised by private interests. It doesn't mean that the data transmitted can't be proprietary, however the medium, its use and protocols should be protected from "hijacking" by preventing the introduction of methods covered by patents requiring paid licensing.

2) What makes the internet possible, e.g. TCP/IP, was made available to the public with unrestricted access. Not by business entities but by scientists, teachers, students, hobbyists, etc.
When we applied our skills and knowledge, we shared everything we came up with by releasing the source code and putting it in the public domain.
As long as the internet wasn't used for commercial purposes, everything worked smoothly, respect and ethics prevailed. As soon as the first graphical browser was released (on wintel machines anyway), commercial interests started pouring in, leading among other things to a browser war, followed by increasing numbers of unethical new users bringing havoc to usenet and who to this date have turned email into a nightmare of spam, HMTL, and virus spreading bandwidth hogs.
More and more web site can no longer be accessed without having an interpreter for this or that proprietary scripting language from only this or that browser.

What I am trying to say is that commercial bottom lines have nothing in common with the foundation and building blocks of a technology meant to be accessible and free to use for everyone around the globe.

In conclusion, let me use an analogy to illustrate my point from a real-world perspective.
Automobile manufacturers are free to build and patent the cars they sell, but they can't patent the concept of the wheel, the straightness of the roads, nor the traffic signs or people's driving skills.

All the best!


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Received on Sunday, 7 October 2001 12:20:53 UTC

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