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

Re: Limited domain a compromise, but much better than RAND

From: Dan Kegel <dank@kegel.com>
Date: Tue, 31 Dec 2002 14:14:23 -0800
Message-ID: <3E1216BF.7040504@kegel.com>
To: Eric Kidd <eric.kidd@pobox.com>
CC: www-patentpolicy-comment@w3.org

Eric Kidd wrote:
> I work as an open source / free software developer.  I've written a
> number of packages, include xmlrpc-c and CustomDNS, and I'm currently
> working on an open source multimedia package.
> I disapprove of software patents in general, and I'm adamantly opposed
> to patents on web standards in particular.  However, I'm willing to
> accept the W3C's Royalty Free policy, including the limited field-of-use
> patent grants (provided these don't turn into a major loophole in the
> policy).
> While I respect the Free Software Foundation--and generally agree with
> their opinions on patents--I can probably live with the compromise in
> the present proposal.

I had thought so, too, until I realized that the present RF
proposal prohibited GPL implementations.  W3C has historically
been very GPL-friendly, so much so that they rewrote their standard license
expressly to ensure GPL compatibility.  Note the date on that
license.  Yes, it's today!  So GPL compatibility isn't a thing
of the past at the W3C; it's alive and well.  At least
until the current "limited-domain-RF" proposal goes through, anyway.

Those of us who work on GPL software care about end users,
and we want to make sure that *every* end user is able
to run and use our software.  That's why the GPL is written
so it can only be applied to patent-unencumbered software.
It's also one reason why the GPL is the most popular free software license.

I urge the W3C to add an exemption for GPL software to the
field-of-use restriction in the current proposal.
The alternative is that the free software community
simply won't implement patent-encumbered W3 standards,
and will come up with their own free standards.
Given that Linux and associated free software is growing
faster than any other operating system,
a decision by the W3C to snub Linux and the GPL
now would amount to taking Microsoft's side in their
battle against the GPL.

I hope the W3C doesn't let themselves be used in that manner.

- Dan

Dan Kegel
Linux User #78045
Received on Tuesday, 31 December 2002 17:01:40 UTC

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