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

Objections to the Working Draft

From: Alastair Burt <alastair.burt@t-online.de>
Date: Sun, 30 Sep 2001 12:49:16 +0200
Message-ID: <3BB6F8AC.7010102@t-online.de>
To: www-patentpolicy-comment@w3.org
I realise that as a mere user of the Web and an occasional contributor 
of free software for it that my views count for liittle in comparison 
with the big software firms and their representatives in W3C. However, I 
feel I must tender my objections to the proposed patent policy. I am 
sure all the objections have been well rehearsed elsewhere but below I 
give the three I feel are most important:

   1. Encumberiing W3C standards with patents will inevitably lead to
      competing standards being developed. If Kodak manages to encumber
      the SVG standard with patents the 78 projects listed on
      freshmeat.net as using SVG will have to develop their own
      standard, just as the PNG standard was developed to counter the
      GIF one. As free software, the projects have no means to pay the
      royalties to Kodak.
   2. The proposed policy is bad PR. Instead of appearing a neutral
      body, the W3C will look like a tool of big business, doling out
      the toll booths on the Internet. You can argue that the W3C must
      accept encumbered standards because, if they did not, the software
      companies in a field would develop the standards anyway, outside
      the W3C. But if you take the above example of vector graphics, you
      have to ask which side does the W3C want to be on: supporting the
      Kodak standard or the free and open standard.
   3. And then there is the moral objection. The vision of encouraging
      all citizens of this planet to put their knowledge on the web so
      that it could be part of a global network is a noble one that I
      thought the W3C was upholding. I do not feel the W3C is fulfilling
      this role if they force people to pay a fee to add their knowledge
      to the net.

I gather that the proposal has still not been accepted as official 
policy by the W3C. I hope that W3C will reject it and instead insist 
that all W3C standards are totally unemcumbered by patents.


Alastair Burt
Received on Sunday, 30 September 2001 06:49:39 UTC

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