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

Re: Restrictive Patent Usage

From: Federico Heinz <fheinz@vialibre.org.ar>
Date: 29 Nov 2002 14:29:10 -0300
To: Dan Kegel <dank@kegel.com>
Cc: www-patentpolicy-comment@w3.org
Message-Id: <1038590953.13817.60.camel@michelle>
On Fri, 2002-11-29 at 04:44, Dan Kegel wrote:
> Federico Heinz wrote:
> > If I may say so, we *do* have the opinion of Eben Moglen, as stated in
> > the FSF's position paper on this matter [...]
> You mean http://www.gnu.org/philosophy/w3c-patent.html ?


> That document didn't have enough detail to explain exactly
> *why* GPL and the draft policy clash.  I have emailed him
> to ask him to update the document to explain in more detail
> (and gave him a copy of your excellent earlier post as
> an example of what I'm looking for).

Thanks to you for your kind words, and the constructive dialog that led
to that post.

I just reviewed the aforementioned page, and I can't remember whether
this paragraph was there before, but it does seem to support my

"As an example, W3 members may contribute patent claims to a standard
describing the behavior of web servers providing particular
functionality. A Free Software program implementing that standard would
be available for others to copy from, in order to add functionality to
browsers, or non-interactive web clients. But if, as the present
proposed policy permits, the patent-holder has licensed the practicing
of its patent claims "royalty-free" only "in order to implement the
standard", reuse of the relevant code in these latter environments would
still raise possible patent infringement problems."

> > I wonder, too. I worry whether that would leave the door open for
> > trouble with non-GPL copyleft licenses, though (the Perl license, for
> > example, which uses the terms of the GPL as an alternative to the
> > Artistic License, would be reduced effectively to the Artistic License).
> Most non-GPL licenses would probably be ok, as they don't try
> to offer the same airtight promise of freedom as the GPL does.

Sure, but it would create problems of license compatibility. Assume for
a moment that my interpretation of the GPL is correct. Now further
assume that Larry includes code in Perl "to implement the standard" and
that the code is covered by a royalty-free, field-of-use-restricted
patent. All of a sudden, the GPL no longer is applicable to Perl, and
thus its license becomes exclusively the Artistic License, which I
understand is incompatible with the GPL, so Perl code can no longer be
used in GPL products, which is *bad*.


Received on Friday, 29 November 2002 12:27:30 UTC

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