Patents & W3C standards

I read on Slashdot that you are considering a change in policy to allow 
fee-based patents to be used for W3C standards.  My point of view, as a 
random web user and site developer: currently I see you (W3C) as being one 
of very few groups devoted to maintaining the quality of the web 
experience for all users, without regard to corporate profit.  I have a 
lot of respect for your standards; I go out of the way to make my own 
pages obey them as much as possible, and complain when other sites' lack 
of compliance interferes with my browsing.  The ability for anyone to 
write standards-compliant software without paying fees to large 
corporations is a big part of why the web is usable to me; as one 
instance, I maintain a small academic web site that includes some 
on-the-fly image generation, possible without fees thanks to your support 
of the PNG standard in place of fee-based GIF image encoding.

Your support of free solutions is a big part of why I respect your 
standards.  If you make this change, you suddenly become yet another 
industry coalition mouthpiece in my mind, and your standards will have no 
more interest to me than the ones promoted by Microsoft, Netscape, Apple, 
or Sun -- perhaps less, because you have less power to enforce those 
standards with your software.
David Eppstein       UC Irvine Dept. of Information & Computer Science

Received on Sunday, 30 September 2001 14:04:54 UTC