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Patented technologies inclusion in W3C standards

From: Lucas Bajrasz <lucas@proimage.mb.ca>
Date: Sun, 30 Sep 2001 14:52:46 -0500
Message-Id: <200109301947.f8UJlkC04405@mx3b.mts.net>
To: www-patentpolicy-comment@w3.org
Dear W2C staff.

I am profoundly disturbed by a proposal pending before W3C which would allow 
inclusion of patented software technologies into W3C backed World Wide Web 
standards. Let me enumerate some of the more obvious results that would be 
produced by such a plan.

As the intent of RAND is clearly to promote propagation of "competition via 
the courtroom", with use of patents on algorithms, the inevitable outcome is 
of WWW contents being predominantly encoded in proprietary formats of one 
kind or another. 

Elimination of non-profit/free-software products such as KDE's 
Konqueror/Kmail  (using witch I am writing this missive). Since free of 
charge products have a total income of $0 per "license" with (for the sake of 
argument)1000000 copies distributed, a "non-discriminatory" approach of, say, 
$1 per license would result in $1 million loss to the project and 
subsequently its inevitable extermination. Assuming significant proliferation 
of the patented delivery systems, an attempt to not include the patented 
technologies would put the project at a severe functional disadvantage, and 
as a result make it a distant-second choice at best or outright unusable at 
worst. 

Introduction of proprietary secret recipes, which combined with the desire of 
certain industries to achieve complete, total and unbreakable control of 
information will inevitably result in a situation where significant portion 
of the information on the Web will be available in the secret-recipe 
pay-per-view format. This naturally will drive another nail in the coffin of 
any Free Software attempting to access this information since Free Software 
by necessity means openly available source code. Open and free are directly 
contradicting partented and secret. Since you are prepared to take the stand 
with the patented side of the equation, logically you must wish for all open 
and free to perish. There is no other choice.

RAND then is certain to severely disadvantage or eliminate Free Software. One 
might ask, who then are beneficiaries of this idea? Small business that 
drives vast majority of the economy? Not likely, such small companies do not 
introduce nor require patented content delivery. It is hard to imagine that 
an owner of a doughnut shop would be concerned with what format her doughnut 
pictures are in. All she wants is for the consumer to be able to access the 
information about her shop. More widely and easily the better. The same 
applies to scientific and educational information. Product literature. 
Customer Service information. And so on. In fact, vast majority of Web 
contents falls into this category. Who does then benefit? The answer is 
simple: those who seek to restrict access to information. Large media 
companies spring instantly to mind.

Oh, I almost forgot another small beneficiary of your brilliant idea. A 
certain software company whose efforts to destroy the only threat to its 
software monopoly aspirations had so far failed. No amount of mis-information 
could do it. No amount of proprietary lock-in strategies could do it. There 
was always the insolent ability for the opposition to produce code that 
follows "open-standards" by which the software company in question was also 
forced to play. No more! RAND will change all that! Now by introducing 
trivial but patented contents delivery mechanism into its web browser it will 
be able to leverage its near-monopoly position to force the use of its 
matching, "W3C approved!", "Standard!",  server technology. "Look at those 
Linux losers scramble!", "Its OFFICIALLY standard and WE control it!", 
"Apache is as good as dead!" - I can already hear the sounds of joy emanating 
from Redmont. Finally we will be able to enjoy complete and unbreakable 
monopoly. This must be worth something to the small software outfit in 
question.

On a personal level, since a large portion of my business is based on 
Linux-related services, I see your proposal as a direct assault on my 
company. I am certain that all other small businesses and service companies 
stand to similarly "benefit" from its introduction. For those not involved 
with Free Software, a drastic increase in software costs combined with loss 
of basic freedoms such as freedom of choice and right of fair-use. For those 
who depend on Free Software - extermination.

As you can (hopefully) see, the few beneficiaries of such process would be 
pre-existing large software/media conglomerates and an occasional litigation 
(as opposed to software) startup. At the expense of the small business owner 
and the general public. Naturally.

Given these facts I have no choice but to question your motivation in this. I 
do not wish to draw conclusions without direct proof, but all the indications 
one can logically draw from your proposal lead only in one direction. Hence 
my question: Are you truly so blind and incompetent as this proposal would 
indicate or was the payoff amount just irresistible? 

Sincerely,

Lucas Bajrasz
Small business owner
Received on Sunday, 30 September 2001 15:47:32 GMT

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