patent policy : chilling effect of RAND


The hour is late and the publication of this proposed policy has only
just reached my attention, so I will be brief.

Though I welcome the W3C's decision to clarify its stand with respect to
software patents, and heartily embrace the proposal regarding
royalty-free patenting of w3c-related technology and standards, I am
disturbed to see even the suggestion that W3C would get involved in the
RAND approach to any of its work.  As one of the only organizations
dedicated to interoperability and standardization of modern information
technology and communication, the W3C is surely aware of the central and
vital role that free software, distributed free of licensing fees and
minimal in IP encumbrance, has played in keeping the Web a vital and
heterogeneous vehicle for innovation and grassroots development.  I
certainly believe that W3C is one organization that, while it may shy
from taking a stand on the appropriateness of software patents in
general, should unequivocally abstain from encumbering any of the
technologies which it promotes or sanctions, no matter how 'reasonably'.

To the world of free software (and here I include not only FSF/GNU, etc.
but also Apache, BSD, and more), any fee-based licensing, no matter how
"reasonable" , has a very serious chilling effect, as there are often no
means for collection of even nominal fees, and requiring such may
irreconcilably conflict with sich software's existing distribution and
development model.  Standards are not just about industry consortia,
they should be for everyone....

...FREE for everyone, otherwise they are not really for everyone after


Bill Haneman
82 Church St,
Skerries, Co. Dublin +353 1 819 9279
founding member and contributor, the Gnome Accessibility Project
and the Apache-Batik SVG Toolkit

Received on Sunday, 30 September 2001 15:52:56 UTC