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FSF's Position on Proposed W3 Consortium "Royalty-Free" Patent Policy

From: David M. Lehrian <david@lehrian.com>
Date: Wed, 4 Dec 2002 10:20:29 -0800
Message-ID: <007001c29bc1$d8733ee0$41883f94@SAM>
To: <www-patentpolicy-comment@w3.org>
I'm concerned about the W3 Consortium adopting the proposed "Royalty-Free" Patent Policy.  I am concerned specifically about the "field of use" restrictions which would make the distribution of any free software illegal if it happened to contain "royalty free" patented code.  The "field of use" restriction is specifically incongruous with GPL Sections 0, 2 & 7.  Section 7 states that "you [the distributor of GPL'ed software]  cannot impose conditions that contradict the conditions of this GPL License."  The problem is that if Royalty-Free patented software is used then the "field of use" restriction imposed by the Royalty-Free patent causes the GPL developer to be in contradiction to Section 0, that those receiving distributions of GPL'ed have the right to run the program for any purpose, and Section 2,  the right to modify it for any purpose.  So the fact that Royalty-Free patented code can be used is useless because it still can't be included in GPL's software because of the Royalty-Free "field of use" restrictions.  The "field of use" restrictions need to be removed from the policy or the policy can be used by patent holders to make a claim against any GPL software containing their software that they believe is being used outside of it's "field of use".  This would be a hay day for the lawyers, and would throw the GPL world into turmoil trying to remove all "Royalty-Free" patented code from any GPL software.  Please eliminate the "field of use" restriction in the final licensing policy.  
Warm Regards,

David M. Lehrian
Software Engineer
    5022 Royal Oak Place
    Royal Oaks, CA 95076-9000
Received on Wednesday, 4 December 2002 13:29:17 UTC

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