W3C home > Mailing lists > Public > www-patentpolicy-comment@w3.org > January 2003

Disagree with the "field of use" restriction

From: Alex Borges (lex) <alex@co.com.mx>
Date: 11 Jan 2003 21:06:53 -0600
To: www-patentpolicy-comment@w3.org
Message-Id: <1042340813.3654.12.camel@lex>

I dont think it would be wise or good to say that the free software
(free as in GPL!) community has never come up with any kind of
innovation insofar as web technolgy is concerned.

There are many examples of great implementations and reimplementations
of w3c standards by free software projects that have taken the proposed
use of the standard (take http), out of its initially proposed realm
(say, web borwsers-web servers). An example of this might be GPL'd
messaging utililties that have used http as a transport for their own
needs (another example... take the apt utility in Debian Linux
systems...hardly a web browser at all and as old as a modern linux app
can get), thus out of the proposed realm.

And i can see what is going to happen. SOAP will end up having this kind
of restriction, and then we wont be able to make a GPL implementation
out of the proposed field of use (probably limited to w3c interests,
sesgated and limited by definition, precisely because this organization
dedicates itself to making standards, its vision is allways limited to
initial ideas, it can never see what individuals or organizations will
do with the standards it emits).  

I think the FSF's ideas are right in this issue. Making w3c standards
dependant on restricted technology is dangerous to one of the most
important web platforms in the world. Probably right now second to none,
the Linux-Apache duo.

Now, i dont see how any w3c standard can or should depend on patented
ideas. I know that the standards body probably feels it needs to comply
with this requirement of corporations to stay relevant. But once this
standard body complies with only one side of the web (private
companies), and not with the interest of the whole web (users, clients,
developers), it will have become a mere puppet of private interest,
instead of a guardian and maker of guidelines so companies can compete
in a market (as i understand it, the real ideal behind technologicall
standard bodies).

Im an Open Source consultant. Over the years ive seen my business grow
at the shadow of the GPL and the protection it has issued us. I see this
proposal as a real threat to the whole GPL community, including my
company. Allowing patented technology into web standards sounds almost
inmoral. Whats to stop companies from sabotaging the free (as in
freedom) nature of a standard once this is passed. 

W3C should feel responsible for the future of web technology. Its
actually what its set out to do! If this is passed, developers other
than the patent holders will not be able to extend technology in any way
not wanted by the holders. One cannot make a standard that provides a
level playing field if the standard itself forces non holder competitors
to pay holder's of relevant patents fees if non holder's wish to extend
beyond any use other than that required by the original holder.
Inherently, this would lead to domination of the holder above the others
by leveraging. And this is no fantasy, it happens every other day and
twice on sundays.

If it relies on patents with only limited grants for using the relevant
technology....it just shouldnt be called a standard. 



-- 
Alex Borges (lex) <alex@co.com.mx>
Received on Saturday, 11 January 2003 22:12:08 GMT

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