"Reasonable and Non-Discriminatory"

I am confused as to how "Reasonable and Non-Discriminatory" is to be
interpreted. The Patent Policy Working Group FAQ,
(http://www.w3.org/2001/08/16-PP-FAQ.html) defines a "Reasonable and
Non-Discriminatory (RAND) License" in part as one that, "may be
conditioned on payment of reasonable, non-discriminatory royalties or

Defining a "Reasonable and Non-Discriminatory" license as one that may
require the payment of "Reasonable and Non-Discriminatory" fees (as
you apparently have done) does not actually define those terms; it
just seems to repeat them.

In the context of the world wide web, I am having a hard time
understanding what sorts of fees could be "reasonable". For one, it
would be nice if free software / open source software continued to be
able to access the web. The ISO policy on patents, which I understand
to be similar to "RAND", (under Fraunhofer's interpretation of the
law) has successfully made it impossible to write free software which
can encode or decode MPEG-2 video or encode or decode MPEG-1 Layer 3
audio in the United States. We also have a bizarre situation with some
of the patents governing GIF.

If W3C's idea of what "reasonable" means (apparently defined as
"reasonable" by your FAQ) would exclude free software / open source
software from being able to view material encoded with a W3C standard,
I cannot imagine, given the context of the world wide web and the strong
contributions peer-reviewed, unencumbered free software has made
to it, that you would really consider this "reasonable". But if you
mean "RAND" the same way ISO means it, this is apparently where you're
headed. I hope you change your mind.


Keith Winstein
Student, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Received on Sunday, 30 September 2001 16:15:21 UTC