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

Re: [xml-dev] standards vs. the public

From: Jonathan Borden <jborden@mediaone.net>
Date: Tue, 9 Oct 2001 18:12:58 -0400
Message-ID: <00cb01c1510f$90b45060$0a2e249b@nemc.org>
To: "Bullard, Claude L (Len)" <clbullar@ingr.com>, "Steven R. Newcomb" <srn@coolheads.com>
Cc: <www-patentpolicy-comment@w3.org>, <xml-dev@lists.xml.org>
Bullard, Claude L (Len) wrote:

> Let me try this in very plain language:
>
> -----Original Message-----
> From: Jonathan Borden [mailto:jborden@mediaone.net]
>
> Bullard, Claude L (Len) wrote:
>
> >> Mine is the objectivist position with respect
> >> to that politic.
>
> >I still have no idea what you are saying.

Ahh the Ayn Rand reference, how apropos this discussion :-)) I haven't read
that 'philosophy' since my college days, so you will forgive me if I was a
bit slow on the uptake.

>
> You are gelding the W3C; for the non-doctors,
> cutting off their nuts.  With a RAND policy,
> the patent owner has to publicly refuse to
> offer reasonable and non-discrimanatory terms.

Hah! My question is whether the W3C has anything possible to geld. If so, it
ought stick to its public mission statement.

> With only RF, they simply refuse and will not
> be publicly held up in a bad light as they are
> the IP owner.  With RAND, you have a chance
> to get reasonable and non-discrimanatory terms
> in those cases in which use of the IP is
> highly desirable.  Without it, you are completely
> and wholely subject to the owner's good will.
> You have in effect, given the WWW to the BigCos.

Look, anyone with real IP worthy of a real patent probably wouldn't waste
their time sitting in W3C working groups. If you had really invented a
better mousetrap, why waste one's time trying to specify the mouse?

The point about internet specifications and WGs is that the _vast_ majority
of so-called IP is really minor modifications to what has already been done,
specifications for little connectors that connect different pieces of
technology. Take an XPointer: an XPointer itself does _nothing_, rather it
is used by a program in order to do _something_. We ought spend our effort
on writing and perfecting and perhaps patenting/copyrighting such programs,
not preventing others from creating and using XPointers by whatever means
they choose.

I am _not_ calling to mandate that every program written to implement a W3C
specification be open source, rather that if the W3C is standardizing the
_language_ with which we choose to speak to eachother, that the _language_
be freely usable.

W3C recommendations are most often _languages_ that specify means of
communication between programs/agents etc. Ever see two Chinese native
speaking people conversing to eachother in broken English? I have on many
occasions -- its because each speaks English as their _second_ language
instead of the particular Chinese dialect of the other. As I've said before,
if France were to charge one penny evertime anyone were to speak a French
word, then even fewer people would speak French than do today. Same for
English. English is hardly the best designed language, yet it has become the
de facto standard language of business because it has widespread usage. The
value of Internet/WWW protocols are not that they are necessarily the _best_
in a technical sense, rather that they are used in a widespread fashion.

I don't want to see an Internet where people are taxed for speaking, nor do
I want to see an Internet where we have 1000 dialects and speach is
incomprehensible. Go make your business case.

Jonathan
Received on Tuesday, 9 October 2001 18:12:42 GMT

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