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

Define RAND

From: Pat Mahoney <patmahoney@gmx.net>
Date: Tue, 9 Oct 2001 00:38:20 -0500
To: www-patentpolicy-comment@w3.org
Message-ID: <20011009003820.A24675@carrera>
Excerpts that follow are quoted with "> " and are from the document:

> W3C Patent Policy Framework
> W3C Working Draft 16 August 2001
> This Version:
>     http://www.w3.org/TR/2001/WD-patent-policy-20010816/
> Latest Version:
>     http://www.w3.org/TR/patent-policy/
> Editor:
>     Daniel J. Weitzner, W3C/MIT, djweitzner@w3.org
> Authors:
>     Michele Herman, Microsoft, micheleh@microsoft.com
>     Scott Peterson, Hewlett-Packard, scott_k_peterson@hp.com
>     Tony Piotrowski, Philips, tony.piotrowski@philips.com
>     Barry Rein, Pennie & Edmonds (for W3C), barry@pennie.com
>     Daniel Weitzner, W3C/MIT, djweitzner@w3.org
>     Helene Plotka Workman, Apple Computer, plotka@apple.com
> Copyright (c) 2001 W3CŪ (MIT, INRIA, Keio), All Rights Reserved. W3C
> liability, trademark, document use and software licensing rules apply.
> --------------------------------------------------------------------------


> At the same time, many Members invest significant research effort in the
> development of their own intellectual property portfolios, so are
> concerned about protecting and benefiting from proprietary technology they
> have developed or acquired.

For the record, I am a web user, and I am interested in benefiting
personally and seeing society as a whole benefit from new technologies.  I
feel the most benefit comes from non-proprietary, non-patented (or perhaps
RF) technologies.


> 2.1 Larger Role of Patents on the Web Landscape


>  1. Convergence: The Web had its origins in the personal computer software
>  industry, where patents had seldom been a factor in development dynamics.
>  However, as the Web comes into contact with the telecommunications,
>  broadcast media and consumer electronics industries, the tradition of
>  patenting technology from those industries will likely be carried over to
>  the Web.

I can just as easily say "as telecommunications, etc. come into contact with
the Web, the Web's tradition of patent free and RF technology will likely be
carried over into said industries".  Why should traditions from other
industry sectors preempt the Web's traditions?  Is there a logical argument
for this other than the fact that other industries are older?  An equally
powerful argument for the Web's traditions over older traditions would be
something like "out with the old; in with the new".  


> 2.2 Working Group Response: Points of Consensus and Areas for Further Work


> Consensus Points:
>   * Importance of interoperability for core infrastructure, lower down the
>   stack: Preservation of interoperability and global consensus on core Web
>   infrastructure is of critical importance. So it is especially important
>   that the Recommendations covering lower-layer infrastructure be
>   implementable on an RF basis. Recommendations addressing higher-level
>   services toward the application layer may have a higher tolerance for
>   RAND terms.

Why should lower-layer infrastructure be treated differently from
higher-level services?  Is interoperability unimportant for services not
deemed low layer?  The above implies that non RF technologies in the
lower-layer of infrastructure would be extremely damaging to Web
interoperability.  It goes on to say that higher-level services may have a
higher RAND tolerance.  Should one assume that this document feels that
incapacity to inter-operate on a higher level will not be damaging to the

The Census Point assumes that no high-level service will ever become low
level through ubiquity.  Is this a valid assumption?  I think not.  For
example, early in the Web's life most information was passed as simple text,
marked up with html.  As computers changed and grew in power, images became
a common form to represent information on the Web.  I consider images to be
in the lower-layer of Web infrastructure and yet they were once not a
significant part of the Web.  Could something like this happen again?  I
certainly think so.

The importance of images was spurred by the increase in power of the average
computer.  Without a doubt, computers are evolving as rapidly as ever.  The
changes are not limited to just increases in computational power.  It is
unreasonable to assume that what is today high-level will never be

Of course, these arguments depend on a definition of low-level that once
excluded images but now includes them.  An explicit definition of low-level
and high-level would clear things up.


> 4. Definitions
> This section is normative.


> (e) RAND License


>      5. may be conditioned on payment of reasonable, non-discriminatory
>      royalties or fees;

As John Gilmore[1] stated, this denies open source and free software
implementations (open source and free software allow the making and
distribution of an unlimited number of copies of the software; with a
pay-per copy licensing scheme this results in an infinite licensing cost).
This is discriminatory in my eyes.  Obviously, the document does not intend
that a RAND license be equivalent to an RF license; however, I cannot see how
a RAND license can be both non-discriminatory and royalty based.

Please define "reasonable" and "non-discriminatory".  As the W3C is a world
wide organization, does "non-discriminatory" mean non-discriminatory for the
majority of the world?  What is reasonable to the average U.S. citizen could
be astronomical to a citizen of a poorer nation.

[1] I concur with all points made in John Gilmore's post which
may be found at

Pat Mahoney	<patmahoney@gmx.net>

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Received on Tuesday, 9 October 2001 01:39:45 UTC

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