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Last Call comment on the patent policy of the W3C

From: Myron <myrona@bbd.co.za>
Date: Tue, 31 Dec 2002 15:04:20 +0200
Message-ID: <3E1195D4.9010105@bbd.co.za>
To: www-patentpolicy-comment@w3.org

Dear Sirs/Madams,

After reading the comments on the FSF page 
http://www.fsf.org/philosophy/w3c-patent.html, I have come to believe 
that the W3C is about to make a grave mistake that will affect the 
future of the WWW as an open resource, and as one that is usable by the 
proponents of free and GPL'd software.

The WWW has come to represent the soapbox of the masses, open to any 
that is willing to take the time to put together a web page. This is a 
valuable cultural and intellectual resource that has enriched my life in 
countless ways and I will forever be thankful to those that created and 
have nurtured it. The WWW, however, has a bad as well as a good. This 
bad is the attitude that the WWW is only useful as a means of fiscal 
profit. In other words, there are those that seek to control it's 
evolution so that those, such as I, who have come to rely on this 
resource, will have to give up our freedom to choose a free platform 
with which to use the resource. The remaining platforms will undoubtedly 
be proprietary and the owners will be able to deny me the access to the 
WWW at will. The owners will charge a fee for the use of these platforms 
but for political or personal reasons, might still prevent me access 
even were I willing to pay the fees. This is the power of tyranny. The 
only cure for tyranny is it's prevention and that is what the GPL is 
very good at.

Section 3, item 3 of 'Patent Policy Working Group, Royalty-Free Patent 
Policy, W3C Working Draft 14 November 2002', provides for a "field of 
use" restriction on the standard. This restriction may prevent the use 
of the standard in GPL'd programs. The example given by the FSF is '...a 
new web standard that requires exercising a technique for parsing URLs 
that is patented by Corporation C. C has licensed the patent under an 
RF, non-exclusive license, but with a "field of use" restriction that 
says the license can be used to "implement the standard". The standard, 
as it turns out, covers only what browsers must do with URLs, and says 
nothing about the server side or clients that aren't user browsers. 
...'. In this example, any program that is not a 'user browser' and is 
also GPL'd, cannot be distributed. Furthermore, any program, regardless 
of licence, that is not a 'user browser' may invoke intellectual 
property litigation against the author.

I strongly believe that the implementer of a standard should never fear 
IP litigation, nor should they have to pay for the right to implement 
the standard. I therefore urge you to drop the item 3 clause of section 
3 that states: ‘may be limited to implementations of the Recommendation, 
and to what is required by the Recommendation;’.

Yours truly,

Myron Alexander.
Received on Tuesday, 7 January 2003 03:51:22 UTC

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