RE: Clarification on old issues and rationale -- Change Proposal vis a vis Issue-7.

Wow! Quite a bit of thought obviously went into this proposed decision
policy [1]. It looks good and carefully crafted. I have just two

In the first paragraph, the sentence "Second, some comments will not be
satisfactory as initially fielded by the editor, and will need to be
resolved by a decision of the Working Group" is a bit awkward to my
reading. Is it the fielding of the editor that is not satisfactory or
the comments themselves? I gather from the context developed later, that
it is the fielding rather than the comments, but, if so, perhaps a
rewording would be in order?

Second (and this is a lengthy one), I am wrestling a bit with the
formality required to submit a "Change Proposal" and am uncertain
exactly if useful suggestions might be stifled by that formality. As a
case in point (and perhaps not a very good case in point, but
nevertheless, it is the one that compelled me to give this nice document
a read) let me describe my uncertainty. On Issue-7 (<video> codec)
Silvia Pfeiffer  
Recently wrote [2] that

"the <video> element is essentially useless without an agreed baseline
codec, I am really keen to move this forward. [...] Let's see if we can
create the environment to make this possible."

Having followed the discussion with at least a part of my heart for two
years now in both HTMLWG and WHATWG, I think Silvia's perspective is
held by a large number of folks. A day or two ago I had a wee brainstorm
that suggested, to me, some possibility of resolution of the issue. I
floated the idea by a couple of key folks and got feedback to the effect
that while a nice idea, it was not particularly practical given the
situation of certain key entities mentioned in my brainstorm. Well, with
my typical disrespect for molecular practicality, I thence allowed the
brainstorm to mutate into something like "how about the HTML WG solicit
pro bono legal advice, starting, for example with the EFF and the
Coalition for Networked Information" to help resolve the uncertainty of
the patent issues associated with Ogg Theora? Microsoft and Apple both
fuss that Ogg <i>might</i> contain hidden patents. They acknowledge
though, that the current IP climate concerning software patents is so
intensely broken that there is disincentive to even go searching for
such patents. So how about we use the august auspices of this WG,
supplemented by pro bono legal advice from those many enlightened folks
in the world who really would like to see progress on this issue, to
insulate, somewhat, the legal exposure of those companies that might in
fact wish to concur on an issue of a common codec for video? If a good
faith effort of the best legal minds in the business cannot succeed in
finding related patents, and if the W3C were willing to put its stamp of
authority on the resultant searches by said legal minds, then what
frivolous-patent-mill would risk the anticompetitive antitrust
counter-actions that would then be brought against them with the full
wrath of the cooperative tech world if they actually went after one of
those cooperative and forward-looking companies? What district judge
hoping for a supreme court appointment would ever be so bold as to stick
her tongue out at both the cheering public and the industrial engines of
the civilized world by holding companies to so impossible a standard and
ruling against progress?

Anyhow, such an idea (disregarding for a moment, its merits or
shortcomings) has no mention of "conformance classes" and does not
really, even, contain new "spec text," as required of the section on
Writing a Change Proposal. So it is conceivable that discussions related
to the overall progress of the WG might not be, strictly speaking,
allowed under the terms, as I read them, of the WG Decision Policy [1]. 

In some of these cases, where no consensus is likely to be found, isn't
it incumbent upon us to open the floor to new approaches rather than to
close them down via too much procedure?


-----Original Message-----
From: [] On
Behalf Of Maciej Stachowiak
Sent: Wednesday, October 28, 2009 5:27 AM
Subject: Clarification on old issues and rationale

The proposed Decision Policy[1] [...]


Received on Wednesday, 28 October 2009 13:02:41 UTC