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

Re: Is there a way out?

From: by way of Susan Lesch <bignose@zip.com.au>
Date: Wed, 24 Jul 2002 22:36:59 -0700
Message-Id: <p05111b0fb9653ee68c75@[]>
To: www-patentpolicy-comment@w3.org

On Wed, 24 Jul 2002, Gary Lea wrote:
>  At the end of the day, be clear about what is at stake here: if a
>  decent compromise is not found between public and private interests,
>  W3C could be bypassed by private sector standards developers and just
>  left to wither on the vine. It deserves better than that.

The history of the Internet's standards simply does not bear that
prediction out.  The industry has chosen, time and time again, to adopt
freely-implementable, freely-licensed, open infrastructure standards in
preference to offerings that are encumbered with restrictions.

What happened to the IBM MCA architecture?  The industry chose the
existing, open PC architecture.  What happened to the proprietary
local networking architectures?  The industry chose the open,
freely-implementable Ethernet.  What happened to the dozens of
proprietary mail transport protocols?  The industry chose the open SMTP
protocol.  What happened to any of hundreds of other proprietary
also-ran protocols?  The TCP/IP suite of protocols, openly developed and
documented by the IETF, was and continues to be chosen by the industry.

The W3C's existing track record of promoting freely implementable
standards does indeed deserve better than to be bypassed.  This track
record is currently at risk, though, as evidenced by the ongoing debate
on this list.

The W3's own stated charter <http://www.w3.org/Consortium/Points/> says
that their purposes include:

   "enabling new forms of human communication and opportunities to share
   knowledge. One of W3C's primary goals is to make these benefits
   available to all people, whatever their hardware, software, network
   infrastructure [...]"

   "[...] promotes interoperability by designing and promoting open
   (non-proprietary) computer languages and protocols [...]"

If the W3C does not make a clear commitment to standards that are freely
implementable by all-comers, without discriminatory barriers like
licensing restrictions or royalty fees, then their position as a
standards organisation for the Web is forfeit, and they will deservedly
wither on the vine as other organisations, which recognise the necessity
of royalty-free standards for infrastructure, take up that role.

  \          "Rightful liberty is unobstructed action, according to our |
   `\        will, within limits drawn around us by the equal rights of |
_o__)                                    others."  -- Thomas Jefferson |
Received on Thursday, 25 July 2002 01:37:02 UTC

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