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Another Comment That Failed to Get Posted

From: Seth Johnson <seth.johnson@realmeasures.dyndns.org>
Date: Wed, 01 Jan 2003 00:45:54 -0500
Message-ID: <3E128092.33BFDA79@RealMeasures.dyndns.org>
To: www-patentpolicy-comment@w3.org
CC: bcsmit1@engr.uky.edu

To the W3C Patent Policy Working Group:

Below is another comment which failed to get posted to
www-patentpolicy-comment@w3.org by the deadline.

1) Brett Smith <bcsmit1@engr.uky.edu>

Thank you,

Seth Johnson

-------- Original Message --------
Subject: Another set of comments that didn't make it
Date: Wed, 1 Jan 2003 00:35:25 -0500
From: Brett Smith <bcsmit1@engr.uky.edu>


I noticed you posted a message to the W3C's patent policy
comments list, forwarding several other people's mails which
have not yet made it through the system.

I have found myself in a similar situation: my mail was sent
by the deadline (in the Eastern time zone, anyway), and
automatically acknowledged by two separate programs. 
However, I have been asked to confirm that the W3C has my
permission to archive the message, and all attempts to
provide this permission have failed; the URL I was given to
do so reports that no message is found with the given ID.

I have written the W3C postmaster about this; however, given
the hour, I do not expect a timely reply, and I worry that,
with this delay, my comments may not be considered.  Hence,
I have included them below, and ask you to do with them what
you deem appropriate.

Thank you for all your work on this.


Section 7 of the Free Software Foundation's GNU General
Public License begins:

      If, as a consequence of a court judgment or allegation
of patent infringement or for any other reason (not limited
to patent issues), conditions are imposed on you (whether by
court order, agreement or otherwise) that contradict the
conditions of this License, they do not excuse you from the
conditions of this License.  If you cannot distribute so as
to satisfy simultaneously your obligations under this
License and any other pertinent obligations, then as a
consequence you may not distribute the Program at all.

What are the conditions of this license?  Among others,
section 2 states in part:

      You may modify your copy or copies of the Program or
any portion of it, and copy and distribute such
modifications or work under the terms of Section 1 above,
provided that you... cause any work that you distribute or
publish, that in whole or in part contains or is derived
from the Program or any part thereof, to be licensed as a
whole at no charge to all third parties under the terms of
this License.

Implementations of patents which are licensed in such a way
as to be restricted to certain fields of use, such as those
permitted in the World Wide Web Consortium's proposed patent
policy, are incompatible with these terms.  One licensee
cannot promise others who receive the software from her that
they may modify the software in any way they deem fit:
specifically, those users are forbidden from using the
patent's implementation outside its field of use.

The GNU General Public License does not allow such
restrictions on the user's ability to create derivative
works from the software.  Hence, implementations of field of
use-restricted patents cannot be licensed under the GNU
General Public License: the conditions of the patent license
and the software's license cannot be met simultaneously, and
hence, under section 7, the licensee may not distribute the
software at all.

It is worth reiterating that this conflict with the terms of
the GNU General Public License is not problematic only when
a licensee attempts to modify the software to implement the
patent outside its field of use.  Even when software
implements a patent in a way that complies with field of use
restrictions, section 7 mandates that, because a licensee
cannot allow those that receive the software from him to
modify it freely, it may not be distributed whatsoever.

Permitting field of use restrictions in patents for world
wide web standards would prohibit the implementation of
these standards in software licensed under the GNU General
Public License.  Authors of server and client software alike
would be faced with a difficult decision: license their
software under different terms, or refuse to support the

Such software has enriched people's ability to make full use
of all the world wide web has to offer.  I ask you, please:
do not ask these authors to make such a decision, and oppose
field of use restrictions in the World Wide Web Consortium's
proposed patent policy.

I thank you for all the time and hard work you have put into
crafting a policy suitable for such a wide-reaching,
impressive medium.  Your efforts are much appreciated.


-- Brett Smith
Received on Wednesday, 1 January 2003 00:46:18 UTC

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