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

RAND and OSS

From: Gunter Ohrner <G.Ohrner@post.rwth-aachen.de>
Date: Sun, 30 Sep 2001 13:10:44 +0200
Message-Id: <200109301110.f8UBAir04186@UnseenUniversity.Scheibenwelt>
To: www-patentpolicy-comment@w3.org
Hi!

I just though that maybe I should commit my opinion about RAND, too.

A lot has already been said about RAND in paticular and patent issues in 
general from the view of company independent software, especially so called 
open source software and free software.

Any methods and algorithms that require license fees to be paid or non 
disclosure agreements to be signed are - by definition - incompatible to open 
software. Their use in Free Software would be illegal, the software's author 
in danger of being sued by the patent holder.

That is, Free Software can only support free methods and algorithms legally, 
which, in turn, gives closed software products and obvious advantage over 
their open counterparts. Closed software is able to use open and patented 
algorithms, thus (apparently) achieving a higher "compatibility" and "feature 
richness" to the common user.

Free Software might not be able to compete in these areas where patented 
algorithms are used - there are already quite a few examples existing, 
especially in the multimedia area. Legal Free DVD players or Free multimedia 
players / encoders able to play / encode proprietary video and/or audio 
formats are virtually impossible, even if written only by examing the media 
files available without any knowledge about the original (proprietary) code 
used to create and/or play these files.

I really fear that something similar might happen to the web - patented 
algorithms are already a barrier for Free Software. However these barriers 
were created by single companies and are not very widespread. The new thing 
with RAND is that now international - formerly open - standards - which used 
to ease the Web community's life - might get in the way of large parts of Web 
users. If that is no discrimination I don't know what is.

Just my thoughts,

  Gunter Ohrner

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Received on Sunday, 30 September 2001 07:12:20 GMT

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