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

Since when is the web for sale?

From: Bea Fontaine <bea@webwitches.com>
Date: Wed, 10 Oct 2001 12:45:59 +0300
Message-ID: <3BC418D7.63475858@webwitches.com>
To: www-patentpolicy-comment@w3.org
As someone who has been tirelessly advocating the w3c as the necessary
basis of all web development, someone who has been trying to coax people
into not using proprietary technologies because they purposefully
counteract the provision of ubiquitously accessible information, I can't
let this one go. I have, in the past, trusted the fact that I did not
need to read wordy legal docs on w3c.org because "they" would take care
of the web for me, as I thought was their mission statement. So much for

It has been hard enough to convince people that the web does not look to
everyone else as it does on their browser of the unspeakable name - and
that this, oh surprise!, is _not_ the web's fault, but the browser's. It
is still hard enough to convince people that the philosophy of the open
source movement is very strongly related to that of freedom of
expression. Turning the use of a piece of proprietary software into a
standard on a pay-per-view basis is tantamount to taxing free speech. It
is inherently ethically wrong to turn something into a standard that
will cost money. Why _is_ there an open source movement if not to
counteract exactly that? People can use whatever on earth they _want_ on
their website, but that does _not_ make it a standard, especially if it
costs money to use it.

I suppose it was only a question of time before the powers-that-be would
try to find a way to pervert the web per se into something that would
make money for them by itself. It is inacceptable to let a committee
that includes for-profit organisations decide who gets a share of the
"web-cake" (as if there was one) and who doesn't. I, for one, had
trusted that committee to work on technical standards for the general
benefit (as they proclaim!), not on money-making schemes for its
members. The web, as such, let's not forget this truism, does not belong
to anyone.

Thankfully, I also believe that the RAND proposal is based on a
product-marketing-based misapprehension of where the web community
itself is headed. The power of the web lies in the fact that, for better
and for worse and despite many attempts to stop it, it is the first 
uncontrolled, uncurtailed, potentially omnipresent as well as
next-to-omniscient information, communication, collaboration and
entertainment source on the planet. That makes it too subversive and
chaotic for any one sales department to deal with. Those who have begun
to cherish that freedom will not relinquish it because of the greedy
concerns of royalty hunters.

If the w3c chooses to go against its own goals
(http://www.w3.org/Consortium/#mission), another movement will just take
over. These things happen very quickly and by themselves - that is why
whole European governments are thinking of switching to linux, no matter
_who_ is throwing tantrums and stomping their feet in Seattle.

All of the above, is of course, my personal opinion. Maybe I require
more explanation?

Béatrice Fontaine - WebWitches
URL www.webwitches.com
Received on Wednesday, 10 October 2001 05:46:39 UTC

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