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Free Software / Open Source compatibility

From: Felix Rabe <xitnalta@web.de>
Date: Fri, 6 Dec 2002 20:42:06 +0100
To: www-patentpolicy-comment@w3.org
Message-Id: <20021206204206.09de9454.xitnalta@web.de>

Dear committee,

I'm deeply worried about your latest draft concerning your planned
patent policy, especially the licensing requirement set forth in
section 3, item 3, "a W3C Royalty-Free license shall mean a [...]
license [...] that: may be limited to implementations of the
Recommendation, and to what is required by the Recommendation".

One reason is that the draft, if enabled, would stop some of your
standards from being implementable by Free Software.  This is further
explained on http://www.gnu.org/philosophy/w3c-patent.html , and most
likely would affect Open Source licensing (see opensource.org) as

Another reason is that it severely restricts innovative developments.
Lawrence Lessig concludes his analysis on controlled vs. uncontrolled
resources in "The Future of Ideas" (Random House, 2001, p. 88f.) with
the following words:

  "Where we have little understanding about how a resource will be
   used, we have more reason to keep that resource in the commons.
   And where we have a clear vision of how a resource will be used, we
   have more reason to shift that resource to a system of control."

The best example he gives is the example of computer networks.  Just
imagine, where would the W3C be today if computer networks had been
restricted to voice messages, either by law or by patent licensing?

I think XML is also a good example of a technology that would have
suffered a lot from such a patent policy as proposed in your draft.


If you still want to be taken seriously as a standards body, you must
not exclude free software and innovation that way.  In five years, I
still want you to be one of the organizations heading innovation in
your field.  Allowing patent claims of any kind would be a sure way to
shut yourself down and to become a big-players-only club.

Please don't.

Felix Rabe
Received on Friday, 6 December 2002 15:47:44 UTC

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