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

I oppose RAND

From: TQ White II <tq@justkidding.com>
Date: Sun, 30 Sep 2001 11:54:47 -0500
Message-Id: <v04011701b7dcf0f6c3db@[192.168.1.100]>
To: www-patentpolicy-comment@w3.org
There are several problems with the idea of promoting standards that
require licenses and royalty fees.

1) It is inherently discriminatory on an economic basis and would likely
result in social discrimination.

2) It hijacks the loyalty of the web community to standards based
technologies to empower those corporations with sufficient resources to
develop 'high-level' standards.

3) In will further solidify the power of large corporations to control both
our internet experiences and the socioeconomic ones that are developing in
the web space.

4) It will further the destructive fragementation of reliable web
infrastructure services on which the development of web sites and services
rely.

5) It puts the W3C in the position of determining who gets the money as
they select against options in the specification of standards.

1) It is inherently discriminatory on an economic basis and would likely
result in social discrimination.

Some people can only afford minimal computer technology and web access.
Supposing that RAND had been in place at the development of CSS. It is easy
to imagine that some people would be forced, by economics, to forgo its
use. This creates a class of internet users that do not have access to
standard services. That class can be identified by the description 'poor'.

Supposing that the W3C completes a standard on instant messaging that is a
RAND standard. If the owner of that standard decides to charge for it, that
will select against a category of people that cannot afford the license.
Those people will be left out of that communication method. When it is used
for political and other social discourse, those people will not be able to
participate.

Since the licensing functions will doubtless be buried inside the cost of
this hypothetical very cheap system, these people may not even know about
the options or have any practical choice in the matter.


2) It hijacks the loyalty of the web community to standards based
technologies to empower those corporations with sufficient resources to
develop 'high-level' standards.

Many people in the internet technology community have, for many years,
committed their economic and intellectual resources to the pursuit of
internet standards. The reasons vary from the philosophical/communal to
practical/shared development viewpoints. In any case, many of these people
have a long history of supporting standards and avoiding the development of
technical and business practices that try to exploit the standards process
for economic gain.

Those companies and individuals without the resources (economic, reputation
or business model) to develop standards have little choice but to adhere to
the standards of those that do. Since this means that, in addition to the
reward of early adoption and authorship of standards, the standard creator
is locked in to receipt of a long term revenue stream, commitment to the
use and promulgation of standards by the internet community is a commitment
to the enrichment of those that are able to create the standards.


3) In will further solidify the power of large corporations to control both
our internet experiences and the socioeconomic ones that are developing in
the web space.

Many large corporations have strategic resources that dwarf those of the
W3C and nearly everbody else. These companies can be expected to see the
RAND as a potential market and marketing tool with substantial revenue
consequences. This means that the full power of such organizations can be
expected to bear down upon the standards process. It is reasonable to
imagine that relatively unimportant standards will be pushed (with those
substantial resources) under RAND only to learn sometime later that it
dovetails with a major marketing initiative of that company.

Other companies will be free to compete with the creator. Of course, that
further enriches the creator company. Consequently, the new system
organizes the standards system so that the second company into the market
is at a permanent disadvantage as it feeds part of its revenue to its
competitor and may serve as a disincentive to that competition.


4) It will further the destructive fragementation of reliable web
infrastructure services on which the development of web sites and services
rely.

At present, even in the day of standards that are free, it is difficult to
create a website that can reliably work with all visitors. There are many
reasons that the browser and web hosting companies omit technologies that
seem like they should be baseline functions. With the addition of RAND and
it's inherent potential to coalesce power in the organizations with
sufficient resources to develop standards, it is likely that the broad
range of smaller organizations will opt against the use of certain
standards because of economic or competitive grounds. Consequently, people
that use those products or services may not have access to the standard.
Consequently, those developing services cannot rely on those services (much
as we can no longer count on the presence of Java).


5) It puts the W3C in the position of determining who gets the money as
they select against options in the specification of standards.

There are, at any moment, many technologies that are suitable for
consideration as a standard. Instant messaging is caught between Microsoft
and America Online. Which one of those gets the revenue stream? Deciding
the virtue of a standard on its technical merits is a very difficult task.

Adding to the consideration (even if it is explicitly disallowed) of where
the money goes, will completely spoil the process. It is easy to imagine
bribes, coercion, and conflicts of interest. Obviously, these potential
exists for all these things today. However, the addition of large company
marketing and lobbying efforts, no longer merely pro bono and based on
strategic needs but turning into actual profit centers, raises the stakes
and encourages intrusion of a bitter sort.

It is also possible that the W3C could be the target of lawsuits when
organizations believe that their explicit economic interests have been
unfairly injured by a standards decision.

Sincerely,
TQ White II
946 N. Kenilworth Ave
Oak Park, IL 60302
708/763-0100


--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
TQ White II

708/763-0100
tq@justkidding.com
http://www.justkidding.com

Check out my latest addition:
http://justkidding.com/politics
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Received on Sunday, 30 September 2001 13:46:52 GMT

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