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

Pleace don't

From: info skylimit <info@skylimit.be>
Date: Fri, 06 Dec 2002 18:32:03 +0100
Message-ID: <3DF0DF13.9090606@skylimit.be>
To: www-patentpolicy-comment@w3.org

Look at the following example:

Here's a detailed step-by-step example that shows how this problem could 
play out:

    1. Programmer P downloads the Konqueror web browser, receiving it 
under terms of GPL.
    2. P learns of a new web standard that requires exercising a 
technique for parsing URLs that is patented by Corporation C. C has 
licensed the patent under an RF, non-exclusive license, but with a 
"field of use" restriction that says the license can be used to 
"implement the standard". The standard, as it turns out, covers only 
what browsers must do with URLs, and says nothing about the server side 
or clients that aren't user browsers.
    3. P implements this technique in Konqueror, and seeks to 
redistribute the modified version on his website so that other users can 
benefit from Konqueror now complying with the standard. If he does, he 
is bound by the GPL under copyright law, because he is redistributing a 
modified version.
    4. However, he knows full well of a condition on that code that 
contradicts the GPL (violating Section 7) -- namely, he knows that C's 
patent license prohibits folks from taking his URL parsing code and 
putting it into, say, a search engine. Therefore, under GPL Section 7, 
he is prohibited from redistribution.
    5. You might think that he can simply assign his copyright to the 
existing copyright holder of Konqueror let distribution happen from that 
source. They could distribute under GPL, but they would be granting a 
self-contradicting license. Nothing (to my knowledge, but IANAL) 
prohibits someone from distributing copyrighted works under licenses 
that make no sense and are self-contradictory. However, it is certainly 
true that those who receive distribution of the works are stuck and 
can't undertake further distribution or modification themselves.
Received on Friday, 6 December 2002 14:14:17 UTC

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