Completing suggestion on the MathML issue

Dear Tim Berners-Lee,

Earlier I have sent you my comments on MathML (with a copy to the working
group). My apologies if you feel burdened by these emails. But I cannot
escape the impression that this matter is something for your desk, since
the group is too pre-occupied with its apparent success.

Taking stock: My suggestion is that you help that something like the
statement is included in the MathML 2.0 document, summary and press release:

"MathML 2.0 is not to be seen as a standard for the use of mathematics on
the computer and internet but rather as a discussion paper in the context
of the development of such a standard. Currently there are various systems
for doing mathematics with the computer, and this creates quite some
confusion. This confusion is increased by the issues of copyright and
ownership of language since many such programs have a commercial basis. The
advise should be that scientists co-operate into solving this confusion,
and that they establish a clear standard for the use of mathematics on the
computer and the internet. Also governments, educators and businesses would
benefit from such a standard. Such a standard would be based on these
principles: (1) that the language of mathematics cannot be copyright or
owned, and (2) that there has been developing a practical and elegant
standard in and by the way that people have been using mathematics over the
centuries. In line with these principles, it must be understood that MathML
2.0 differs from existing commercial formats only for the reason that it is
more useful in the short run to avoid the risk of litigation and hold-up.
This decision in no way implies acceptance of existing commercial claims
about copyright or ownership in the realm of the language of mathematics
and its representation on the computer and the internet."

This is the most important suggestion that I can do. My paper
'disappointment and embarrassment' contains more suggestions in detail, but
this requires the attention of a more interested reader.

Sincerely yours,

Thomas Cool


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