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Patent Policy working draft: RF licensing requirements

From: Ralph Clark <ralphclark@ntlworld.com>
Date: Wed, 01 Jan 2003 01:38:41 +0000
Message-ID: <3E1246A1.6020502@ntlworld.com>
To: www-patentpolicy-comment@w3.org


On the whole the proposal looks good. However I have concerns about a 
detail of the proposed W3C Royalty-Free License (W3CRFL).

In section 3 of the proposed policy draft, item 3 proposes that
"[A W3C Royalty-Free license]... may be limited to implementations of 
the Recommendation, and to what is required by the Recommendation".

This appears to have a (presumably unintentional) side effect wherein it 
allows for only limited types of implementation of the patented method 
or technique.

In this sense it would be incompatible with the widely-used General 
Public Licence (GPL) and would therefore make it impossible for software 
authors to incorporate patented and W3CRFL-licensed methods or 
techniques into software licensed under the GPL - which requires that 
everything released under its protection must be unhampered by such 

Furthermore it could prevent software authors from incorporating such 
W3CRFL'ed content into any kind of web-enabled software released under 
_any_ sort of free licence, outside of a very narrow range of 
application types, eg. traditional browsers. As the web matures as an 
application platform and an increasing variety of systems present a 
web-enabled interface, this could become a very significant restriction 

If the proposal is adopted as currently written, the abuses it would 
allow would effectively castrate the proposed licence in terms of its 
apparent intention to keep W3C conformant systems open and freely 

The W3C has so far demonstrated its bona fides to the public in drafting 
the proposal specifically to address the public's previously stated 
concerns. This makes me reasonably confident that the side effects 
outlined here must surely be unintentional.

I therefore urge the committee to go the last mile and revise this 
section in order to ensure that technologies blessed by W3C _cannot_ be 
encumbered by such restrictions.

Yours faithfully

Ralph Clark
21 James Street
CM16 6RR
United Kingdom
Received on Tuesday, 7 January 2003 22:32:13 UTC

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