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RAND

From: Jon Snader <jsnader@ix.netcom.com>
Date: Thu, 11 Oct 2001 18:46:51 -0400
Message-ID: <3BC6215B.6030807@ix.netcom.com>
To: www-patentpolicy-comment@w3.org
I am inalterably opposed to the proposed changes to the W3C patent 
policy to allow so called RAND licenses on W3C standards.  As the 
working group itself states, ``The sine qua non of the Web revolution is 
the open standards environment on which the Web is built and continues 
to grow.''

Despite RANDs non-threatening and comforting name, we have had enough 
experience with such devices to know what they mean in practice. 
Companies with sufficient resources will be more than able to pay any 
required license fee, and will, in fact, probably cross-license their 
patents so that they pay no fee at all.  Open software developers, on 
the other hand, will not be able to pay these fees and will be unable to 
use the ``standard.''  This is not what the Web and W3C is supposed to 
be about.  If member companies are concerned with recouping their 
``significant research efforts,'' let them compete in the marketplace 
rather than trying to use the W3C as a tax collector.

I believe that this change will be, correctly, perceived as an effort on 
the part of the few to highjack the work of the many.  Companies that 
described the Web as a fad and a non-starter were content to let what we 
today call the Open Software Movement do the heavy lifting and bring the 
   benefits of the Web to all.  Now these same companies are hoping to 
cash in on this work by trying infect the W3C standards process with 
their patents.  The irony is that in the end the people who built the 
Web will be prevented from making contributions in some areas, and 
perhaps even in developing products at all.

This won't happen, of course, and the reason it won't should give W3C 
pause.  If such a policy is implemented, there will be immediate calls 
for an alternate standards body for the Web.  Indeed, some have already 
made such calls, seeing in the proposed RAND policy a betrayal by W3C. 
These people might be dismissed as a fringe element, but if the policy 
is implemented you will see a groundswell of support for an open 
standards body whose charter will specifically prohibit this sort of 
mischief.

The W3C has worked hard to bring the Web to everyone, and I hope that it 
will continue to do so by emphatically rejecting this disaterous policy. 
  If it doesn't, I fear the W3C will become increasing irrelevent and 
finally cease to exist.  That would be a shame.
-- 
Jon Snader
``Effective TCP/IP Programming''
http://www.netcom.com/~jsnader
Received on Thursday, 11 October 2001 18:47:28 GMT

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