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Comment on Clause 3 of Section 3 of draft policy

From: Stanley A. Klein <sklein@cpcug.org>
Date: Mon, 30 Dec 2002 17:43:41
Message-Id: <>
To: www-patentpolicy-comment@w3.org

I urge you to delete Clause 3 of Section 3 of the policy.  This is the
clause that states: "may be limited to implementations of the
Recommendation, and to what is required by the Recommendation."

It is my understanding that this could have the ultimate effect of
prohibiting the license of software implementing W3C recommendations under
the GNU General Public License (GPL).  This prohibition would occur because
software licensed under the GPL must be reusable for any purpose, not just
some limited purpose.

In my view, the GPL is an extremely important license.  It is the only
free/open-source license that guarantees preservation of what Lawrence
Lessig calls the "Innovation Commons."  Lessig, in turn, has shown that the
Innovation Commons has had a critical role in the availability and growth
of the Internet.

In addition, in my view, administration of such a provision could become
extremely difficult and place excessive burdens on both software developers
and any dispute resolution mechanisms created under the policy.  For
example, if you have a patented function implementing a recommendation, how
do you administer prevention of calls to that function within the same
program for purposes outside the recommendation (such as an email feature
included in a web browser, where email is outside the scope of a
recommendation).  This would expecially apply when other functions are
commonly called for both web and non-web purposes.

The easiest way to avoid both the damage to use of the GPL and the
administrative problems that could arise is to delete the clause.  Then
patent holders would either have to freely license their relevant patents
for all purposes, or W3C would need to avoid the patented technology in its

Stanley A. Klein
Received on Tuesday, 7 January 2003 08:39:49 UTC

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