W3C home > Mailing lists > Public > www-patentpolicy-comment@w3.org > August 2002

Re: Is there a way out?

From: by way of Susan Lesch <rickstockton@acer-access.com>
Date: Sat, 31 Aug 2002 19:58:22 -0700
Message-Id: <p05111b00b99732a454f8@[]>
To: www-patentpolicy-comment@w3.org

>  Gary Lea said
>  ...you could bar the licensor from performing audits 
>(completely/save > in exceptional circumstances as defined) or 
>demanding use of their
>  products (that would probably be product tying and illegal anyway) 
>or > any other of the evils listed on this board.

I think that it is impossible to propose that a company which has 
been awarded with so-called "RAND" licensing terms would << NOT >> be 
allowed to enforce those terms, seeking compensation and punishment 
as relevant laws allow.

Unfortunately, it is almost certain that some Open Software Users 
would not send their license money (or required personal information, 
or whatever "RAND" means for that particular standard) to the "RAND" 
licensor. These people would be engaging in illegal behavior, for 
which the license holder would deserve compensation. Once you accept 
the implementation of "RAND", you accept the legal consequences.

I think that it is very likely that M$ (in particular) would use this 
issue to inflict licensing hassles and compliance penalties on Open 
Software Developers, as well as End Users of their programs. This 
obviously creates GREAT harm to the Open Software Community. I 
suspect that Microsoft considers that licensing damage (to the 
Developers and Distributors) to be of far greater (selfish) value 
than the "RAND" money proceeds.

With so many individuals, companies, and Countries trying to get out 
from under the illegally-won monopoly power of M$, I feel that it 
would be a grave disservice to the Internet Community for WC3 to 
assist companies in requiring license fees for software which 
utilizing 'Standards'. As others have pointed out, proprietary 
software and data formats already play a major role in the Internet 
WITHOUT claiming to be de jure 'Standards'. (MacroMedia, Microsoft, 
RealNetworks, and Adobe are some examples.)

I agree that there is a real possibility of WC3 becoming 
"marginalized" by the wrong decision on this issue. That could easily 
occur after a significant Standard is established under the burden of 
so-called "RAND" licensing. (I say so-called, because such licensing 
is INHERENTLY UN-Reasonable and Discriminatory. This name was created 
by Clever Marketing!) Entire National Governments now taking stands 
to use Open Software products, partly because of the freedom from 
licensing HASSLES (not just the freedom from licensing $$$.) It is 
not unthinkable that a WC3, behaving as a voicebox for money-grubbing 
companies with onerous "RAND" licensing requirements, would be 
sidelined by a new Standards organization which did a better job of 
representing the Interests of Internet Users.

A battle between a new Open-Friendly and the "RAND"-Friendly 
organization would possibly consume vast amounts of effort on both 
sides. I would not look forward to so much bad feeling and wasted 
energy. But Standards must be Free, and Licenses must be respected.
Received on Saturday, 31 August 2002 22:58:26 UTC

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