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

Re: Restrictive Patent Usage

From: Dan Kegel <dank@kegel.com>
Date: Fri, 29 Nov 2002 11:06:32 -0800
Message-ID: <3DE7BAB8.40703@kegel.com>
To: Federico Heinz <fheinz@vialibre.org.ar>
CC: www-patentpolicy-comment@w3.org

Federico Heinz wrote:
 >> [ http://www.gnu.org/philosophy/w3c-patent.html
 >>   didn't have enough detail to explain exactly
>>   *why* GPL and the draft policy clash.]
> 
> "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 think that was there originally.  What I was looking for that was
missing was a hand-held tour through the GPL showing why
that caused total incompatibility with the GPL.

>>>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*.

Got it.  Yes, any tool that is dual-licensed GPL and something
else would suddenly no longer be GPL'd if it include code that
implemented a patented technique for which an unconditional
license has not been granted (assuming you're right).

The GPL is a brand, essentially, which stands for "freedom to use,
*modify*, and share", and it looks like the author did a good job
in making sure anything released under the GPL actually delivers
those freedoms.

- Dan
Received on Friday, 29 November 2002 14:06:14 GMT

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