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Comment on Patent Policy

From: <Darren.Schlamp@w3.org>
Date: Sun, 30 Sep 2001 09:56:40 -0700
To: www-patentpolicy-comment@w3.org
Message-Id: <20010930165427.IXMU14306.femail26.sdc1.sfba.home.com@there>
I was dismayed to read that the W3 is considering allowing patented 
technology into future recommendations. I feel that the existence of the web 
is tightly linked to the presence of open standards. 

The most frustrating elements on the internet (for me) are those which use 
proprietary or patented technology - sites that only offer graphical, video 
or music content in formats like Flash, Quicktime, RealPlayer or Windows 
Media Player. Most of these require a plug-in which is only available from 
the owner of the technology, such as Macromedia, Apple, or Microsoft. These 
plug-ins are often only available for specific browsers or operating systems, 
and are often highly unstable. This decreases accessibility of the web, as a 
truly open standard, free of encumbering patents, can be independently 
implemented by all browsers. Today, any browser maker is free to incorporate 
display of .png graphic files, and any browser maker can currently include 
html and xml rendering in their browser. In the future, only those who are 
willing to pay to license technology will be able to produce a 
standards-compliant browser. Should the current patent recommendation be 
approved by the W3C, the Amaya browser will face a future where it either 
cannot be freely distributed, or else where it cannot implement the W3 
standards.

In addition, the creation of content can be more tightly controlled once 
patented technology is incorporated into standards. Content can only be 
created for many of the above-noted proprietary / patented formats by 
licensing the owner's software at a significant cost. If patented technology 
is allowed into a critical standard at some time in the future, the creation 
of web content could be limited to corporations, or the rich. Today, the use 
of open standards allows increasing use of the internet by people in the 
poorest countries of the world. A "reasonable" licensing fee for North 
Americans or Europeans may not be reasonable in many other parts of the 
world. The use of the internet as a communication tool will be restricted, 
and the voices of many prospective internet users will be drowned in a sea of 
license fees. Patents and royalty payments for the use of W3 standards 
represent a significant step towards corporate control of the internet. 

In addition, the policy on patent disclosures does not appear to fully close 
the door which Rambus used during the JEDEC development of the specification 
for DRAM. Any W3C member who fails to disclose patent information during 
development of a standard should be required AT A MINIMUM to grant a 
royalty-free license for all uses in relation to the W3C recommendation. RAND 
appears to be badly flawed, and has no place in an open standards 
organisation. 

I urge the W3C to require that only technologies available on a royalty-free 
basis be considered for use in future W3C Standards. 

Darren Schlamp
Received on Sunday, 30 September 2001 12:54:34 GMT

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