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Comments on the W3C Patent Policy Framework

From: Michel Debar <michel.debar@fundp.ac.be>
Date: Thu, 11 Oct 2001 16:17:17 +0200
Message-Id: <5.1.0.14.0.20011011161043.02e93a60@pop.fundp.ac.be>
To: www-patentpolicy-comment@w3.org
I wish W3C to consider these comments as those I want to make regarding the 
"W3C patent policy framework" as published on " 
http://www.w3.org/TR/2001/WD-patent-policy-20010816/ ". I have duly 
considered my position, and I came to the conclusion that it is best 
expressed in the terms used by Richard Stallman in a previous comment 
addressed to W3C.

Here are my comments :

If the World-Wide Web is indeed to remain "world-wide", it must not depend 
on restricted standards.

The W3C cannot prevent others from developing or using restricted 
standards, but it should not lend its name to them. Therefore, the W3C 
should adopt a policy that all important standards
must have free patent licenses (and thus allow free software).

Perhaps there are some standards for specialized kinds of 
business-to-business communication which are sufficiently unimportant that 
it may not be disastrous if they are patented. These standards do not 
really deserve the term "world-wide", but they may still be worth the W3C's 
attention.

But standards that really are of world-wide importance must be free.

The "back-door RAND" problem pointed out by Adam Warner is especially 
crucial.  When the W3C decides that a certain standard ought to be 
patent-free, no circumstances should be allowed to annul that decision.

Aside from these substantive changes in policy, the W3C should also stop 
using the term "reasonable and non-discriminatory", because that term 
white-washes a class of licenses that are normally neither reasonable nor 
non-discriminatory.  It is true that they do not discriminate against any 
specific person, but they do discriminate against the free software 
community, and that makes them unreasonable.

I suggest the term "uniform fee only", or UFO for short, as a replacement 
for "reasonable and non-discriminatory".


Michel DEBAR  -  Directeur Technique
FUNDP University computing service (SIU)

61, rue de Bruxelles   B5000 Namur    Belgium

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Received on Thursday, 11 October 2001 10:17:23 GMT

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