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

RAND licensing

From: <mark@otford.kent.btinternet.co.uk>
Date: Sun, 30 Sep 2001 08:52:51 +0100
To: www-patentpolicy-comment@w3.org
Cc: mark@otford.kent.btinternet.co.uk
Message-Id: <E15nbP9-0000FP-00@bells>

I've just read about the w3c's proposals for RAND licensing, apparently
being considered because of pressure from some commercial organisations.

In my view, if commercial organisations wish to persue their own, closed
technologies, with a view to having them accepted as a de facto standard,
that is very much up to them.

If their work is not good enough to be adopted without the backing of
an organisation such as the W3C, then, in my view, it is not appropriate 
for the W3C to engage in assisting them achieve this market dominance.

I spent several years as a Rapporteur at the ITU, responsible for
several telecommunications standards.  During this period, I observed
the same kind of agreement reached at the ITU, again, through pressure
from commercial organisations.  The argument given then was that the
ITU did not move quickly enough for them.  Since that time, ITU standards
have become a minefield of patented works and open works, with many
companies not bothering to attempt to get a standard agreed, because 
the ITU is *no longer* seen as providing an even-handed standards

Where standards are being persued, progress in many cases has completely
ground to a halt (eg., ATM recommendations in SGs 15 and 13), because
there are now competing commercial considerations to take into account.

Standards bodies are simply not capable of handling competing commercial
interests, they are not an artificial commerical marketplace, and they
make a poor substitute for proper, open competition between businesses.  

It is likely that the RAND change being considered by the W3C will result
in the same kind of legal quagmire surrounding its publications, as well
as the same kind of painfully slow progress where work is going on close
to the patended interests of one company or another.

The ITU in fact ended up having competitions to determine which algorithm
to approve in some cases - this is *no* way to write technical standards.

I would strongly suggest a move back to the traditional, open, standards
development process which creates a framework for companies to compete
with their own offerings in a free marketplace.  If individual companies
wish to offer functionality *above and beyond* the requirements of a 
given standard, they can do so now, without any changes to licensing.

Please abandon the RAND proposal - it's not good for the W3C, or for
its standards, or indeed for the member organisations, or the users of
the web.

Mark Kent.
Received on Sunday, 30 September 2001 03:53:26 UTC

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