Non-discriminatory licensing


I read the reasonable and non-discriminatory FAQ with some consternation 
and growing dread.  What you are proposing is  the razing of the web 
community to erect a supermall.  What you propose, if I may mix my 
metaphors, is the auctoning of the commons to a group of self-interested 
superpowers who already own all other forms of mass-communication.

First, consider the term "non-discriminatory."  In a world where a 
patent is granted for "one-click" shopping, or for playing with a cat 
with a laser-pointer, how on earth can any patents be 
"non-discriminatory?"  How can a proposed standard of any sort be 
burdened with ownership?

This entire policy discriminates against the poor.  It discriminates 
against the powerless.  The cost of software has increased by several 
*thousand* percent, relative to the cost of the computer hardware on 
which it runs.  The only alternative for many (especially with recent 
assaults by corporations to destroy first-sale doctrine) is to use Free 
and Open-Source software.  Currently, these Free/Open projects are 
successful only because of the open nature of the web.  Once that open 
gate is slammed in our face, how can we hope to participate in 
innovation?  How can we hope to continue helping the poor access 
information currently reserved for those who can afford expensive, 
recurring, non-transerable software licensing fees?

The very nature of the Internet has been open, unencumbered 
communication and cooperation.  From the very start, the Internet 
required *true* good-faith participation.  The World Wide Web was a 
natural extension of what came before-- an *open* project with protocols 
and methods based on ideas and documents available to all.  These open 
ideas led to something unprecedented: a global communications medium 
available to all, unencumbered by restrictions based on the needs of 
powerful corporations.

Consider this: recent licenses of Microsoft Front Page have restricted 
its use such that it may not be used to create sites critical of 
Microsoft.  What you are proposing is to allow similar licenses to creep 
into the very fabric of the Web, which, until now, has remained Free! 
You are selling the freedoms of every person on earth to corporations 
who have only one consideration: maximize profit.

In the past, public works have been corporatized to allow someone who 
can afford to exploit the value of those works.  With the Internet, and 
the Web, *we can all* exploit their value.  It does not take expensive 
manufacturing facilities; nor does it require expensive and delicate 
research labs.  It *does* require the unencumbered, unrestricted use of 
*all* our intelligence.  It *does* require the free flow of ideas.

Please, Sirs, do not allow this to happen.  Do not prostitute the ideas 
of Freedom inherent in the current World Wide Web to the desires of 
lecherous corporations.  If you do, you will see the web erode until 
nothing important exists; we will have news sites that are nothing but 
mirrors of the pap presented on TV and current mass-produced newspapers.

If you *do* relax your current high standards, please at least do the 
world's population one curtousy: change your name from the W3C to the 
WCC: the World-Wide Corporation Consortium.  It will at least be 
intellectually honest.

					Anthony Taylor

Received on Sunday, 30 September 2001 15:06:05 UTC