I've just read about the w3c's proposals for RAND 
licensing, apparently being considered because of 
pressure from some commercial organisations. 
In my view, if commercial organisations wish to persue 
their own, closed technologies, with a view to having 
them accepted as a de facto standard, that is very much 
up to them. 
If their work is not good enough to be adopted without 
the backing of an organisation such as the W3C, then, in 
my view, it is not appropriate for the W3C to engage in 
assisting them achieve this market dominance. 
I have observed the same kind of agreement 
reached at the ITU, again, through pressure from 
commercial organisations. The argument given then was 
that the ITU did not move quickly enough for them. Since 
that time, ITU standards have become a minefield of 
patented works and open works, with many companies not 
bothering to attempt to get a standard agreed, because 
the ITU is *no longer* seen as providing an even-handed 
standards process. 
Where standards are being persued, progress in many cases 
has completely ground to a halt (eg., ATM recommendations 
in SGs 15 and 13), because there are now competing 
commercial considerations to take into account. 
Standards bodies are simply not capable of handling 
competing commercial interests, they are not an 
artificial commerical marketplace, and they make a poor 
substitute for proper, open competition between 
It is likely that the RAND change being considered by the 
W3C will result in the same kind of legal quagmire 
surrounding its publications, as well as the same kind of 
painfully slow progress where work is going on close 
to the patended interests of one company or another. 
The ITU in fact ended up having competitions to determine 
which algorithm to approve in some cases - this is *no* 
way to write technical standards. 
I would strongly suggest a move back to the traditional, 
open, standards development process which creates a 
framework for companies to compete with their own 
offerings in a free marketplace. If individual companies 
wish to offer functionality *above and beyond* the 
requirements of a given standard, they can do so now, 
without any changes to licensing. 

Please abandon the RAND proposal - it's not good for the 
W3C, or for its standards, or indeed for the member 
organisations, or the users of the web. 

Eric Fletcher,
Sr Unix administrator, Corecomm Inc

Received on Sunday, 30 September 2001 10:20:48 UTC