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Comments from the perspective of the DotGNU project

From: Norbert Bollow <nb@cisto.com>
Date: Thu, 27 Mar 2003 12:27:25 +0100 (CET)
To: www-patentpolicy-comment@w3.org
Cc: rms@gnu.org, coreteam@dotgnu.org
Message-Id: <20030327112725.BBDD22FA4E@quill.cisto.com>

Dear members of the W3C Patent Policy Working Group,

when I read in the press release

  http://www.w3.org/2003/03/patentpolicy-pressrelease

under the heading "W3C Patent License Requirements Consistent with
Open Source/Free Software Terms" that 

  "The W3C Royalty-Free license requirements are now consistent with
  generally recognized Open Source licensing terms. This Royalty-Free
  definition provides an assurance that the Recommendations themselves
  are truly available to all users and implementors."

I thought that the issue which is raised in the FSF's statement of
position http://www.fsf.org/philosophy/w3c-patent.html had been
resolved in the new draft.  

This is unfortunately not true.  The new draft policy still allows
the creation of W3C standards which are impossible to implement in
GPL-compatible Free Software.  I note that the GNU GPL is the most
generally recognized license not only the in the Free Software
movement but also in the Open Source movement.  The above-quoted
statement is therefore wrong and misleading, until the policy bug
gets fixed which allows the creation of W3C standards which are
impossible to implement in GPL-compatible Free Software.

Since the DotGNU project is committed to using the GNU GPL, this
means that whenever a W3C standard is patent-encumbered with a
patent license that allows to use the patent _only_ "in order to
implement the standard", then the DotGNU webservice platform will
not provide any implementation of that W3C standard.  In fact, we
would have to quickly create a competing standard and actively
lobby against widespread adoption of the patent-encumbered standard
as that would be the only way to achieve interoperability between
DotGNU and other webservice systems.

I feel that such a "standards war" would be highly undesirable.

However, I would have no hesitations to fight such a "standards war"
if that is necessary in order to allow the DotGNU project to achieve
its mission.

It is my understanding that it is the objective of the W3C's proposed
patent policy to prevent W3C standards from becoming the cause of
such "standards wars".  Therefore I urge you to revise the policy to
make sure that it will be possible to implement W3C standards in GPL'd
Free Software.

For example, in section 3 item 3, the sentence "may be limited to
implementations of the Recommendation, and to what is required by the
Recommendation" could be changed to something like "may be limited to
implementations of the Recommendation, and to what is required by the
Recommendation, if at the same time a separate royalty-free license
allows use of the patent in all Free Software which is licensed under
the terms of the GNU General Public License".

Greetings, Norbert.

-- 
Founder & Steering Committee member of http://gnu.org/projects/dotgnu/
Free Software Business Strategy Guide   --->  http://FreeStrategy.info
Norbert Bollow, Weidlistr.18, CH-8624 Gruet (near Zurich, Switzerland)
Tel +41 1 972 20 59        Fax +41 1 972 20 69       http://norbert.ch
Received on Thursday, 27 March 2003 10:14:57 GMT

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